Environment & Science

What you will (and won't) see at JPL's open house this weekend

Bobak Ferdowsi shows KPCCers a mock Curiosity at JPL.
Bobak Ferdowsi shows KPCCers a mock Curiosity at JPL.
Kristen Lepore

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena will open its doors to the public Saturday and Sunday. 

This year's theme is "Welcome to Our Universe." Visitors can check out demonstrations from space missions and see a life-size model of the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

More importantly, you'll get a tour of JPL's Mission Control Center for NASA's Deep Space Network, where scientists and engineers send and receive signals from spacecraft across the solar system. You may recognize the room from this video of the JPL team monitoring Curiosity landing on Mars two years ago: 

Video: Full Video of Curiosity Landing on Mars

That's also when the world was introduced to Bobak Ferdowsi. You know, that cool engineer who rocks celestial designs in his mohawk? Ferdowski recently took a handful KPCC staffers on a tour of JPL. (Pro tips: Wear comfy shoes! This place is like a college campus. JPL will only provide vans for mobility-challenged guests.)

(Photo: Kristen Lepore/KPCC)

Other highlights will include: the machine shop, where highly precise robotic spacecraft parts are built; the Microdevices Lab, where engineers and scientists use tiny technology to revolutionize space exploration; and an interactive art installation inspired by comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which the Rosetta mission is currently orbiting.

(Photo: Gabriel Bernadett-Shapiro)

And then there's the big white room, also known as the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, where you can see hardware for upcoming missions under construction.

(Photo: Kristen Lepore)

What you won't see is the Mars Yard, where engineering models of NASA's Curiosity rover are tested in a sandy, Mars-like environment. The good news is: We took photos and footage while there. 

Watch: The Mars Yard at JPL

Video: Watch the wheels in motion

You can RSVP to the event on Facebook, and brag about your visit using the hashtag #JPLOpen on Twitter. 

Hopefully you'll have as much fun as we did! (For more photos, click on the slideshow above.)

(Photo: Gabriel Bernadett-Shapiro/KPCC)

JPL is located at 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, California, 91109. It'll be open to the public 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free. Parking is limited, but free. To get to JPL, take the Berkshire Avenue/Oak Grove Drive exit from the 210 Freeway in La Canada/Flintridge. Find detailed directions here