The Jet Propulsion Lab: Up-Close & Personal

I recently took a trip to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in nearby Pasadena to interview a couple of the rocket scientists who successfully guided the Curiosity Rover to the surface of Mars. One of them is now involved with driving the rover around the Red Planet. I'll post those two interviews separately in the days to come, but I thought I'd whet your whistles with the shots in the gallery below. Most are of the mission control rooms that adjoin one another. These are the very same rooms that NASA used to control all the unmanned Apollo missions in the '60s, as well as practically every other unmanned flight to distant planets, commets, moons, infinity and beyond.

I have to say it was quite a rush being there and learning from the scientists first-hand. Of all the photos in the gallery below, my favorite is the close-up of one of the monitors you see in the mission control room. The screen tracks the position of every live mission to-date, including, of course, Curiosity, or MSL (Mars Science Laboratory). You can see that one down at the bottom of the list. Up at the top, at 35 years and still ticking, VGR2 - or Voyager 2, the first Voyager spacecraft to launch, and the only spacecraft to visit Uranus and Neptune. It's the longest-operating NASA spacecraft ever. So enjoy these and stay tuned for the interviews to come...

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