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July 2017

July 31st, 2017
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Photograph Number 321-136
Research Analysis Section, 1956

In the 1950s, this type of photo was typically used in JPL brochures, recruiting posters, and advertisements that appeared in popular technical journals.  This one happens to show Research Analysis (Section 1).  It was part of Department II, Design and Power Plants.  At right, pointing with his pipe, is newly appointed section manager Al Hibbs, who earned a Ph.D. in Physics at Caltech while working in Section 1, had a long career with JPL, and was known as “The Voice of JPL.”

If you would like to learn more about early JPL sections, there is a feature in Lab-Oratory (the JPL employee newspaper at the time) starting in September 1951, called Sections on Parade.  A brief article described the work done by the section, sometimes including a group photo.  A 1954 article described Section 1 as “… a mathematical section, whose major activity has been in the field of aerodynamics, fluid mechanics and physics during the past several years .… concerned with the aerodynamic design, wind tunnel testing, and trajectory analysis of various missiles and flight test vehicles….  Four computers from Section 23 work closely with the engineers, assisting in the problems of numerical computation.”

For more information about the history of JPL, contact the JPL Archives for assistance. [Archival and other sources:  Lab-Oratory 1951, 1954, 1959; Section 321 photo albums and index; and JPL/Caltech directories.]

June 2017

June 29th, 2017
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Photograph Number P-45061
Mars Pathfinder Rover Team, 1994

In December 1994, a group of Mars Pathfinder team members gathered for a photo with the Sojourner Rover model.  They were working on rover technology development efforts about two years before the anticipated launch date.

On February 1, 1995, Mars Day was held on the JPL mall – an event for JPLers, schoolchildren, and visitors.  The Office of Mars Exploration sponsored presentations, booths, and demonstrations of technology from Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor.  Mars Exploration Program Manager Donna Shirley said, “We wanted people from other projects and those who aren’t involved in our office to see what we’re up to, what kind of technologies we’ve developed.  We’re excited about what we’re doing and we wanted to share that excitement.”

If you would like to help the Archives staff identify people in this photo, please see the partial list at (click on title to open PDF document).

For more information about the history of JPL, contact the JPL Archives for assistance. [Archival and other sources: Collection JPL508, various issues of Universe, photo index, Allen Sirotta, Brian Wilcox, and David Braun.]

May 2017

May 31st, 2017
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Photograph Number 318-243Bc
Deep Space Network/Space Flight Operations Exhibit

In October 1967 Mariner 5 had just reached Venus, JPL was looking forward to the 10th anniversary of Explorer 1 and the launches of Surveyor 6 and 7 to the Moon, and Mariner 6 and 7 were in development. When visitors were escorted into the lobby of the Space Flight Operations Facility (SFOF), they saw the reception/security desk, a waiting area, and this new exhibit.  It explained the flow of data from a spacecraft to the Deep Space Network stations (or Deep Space Instrumentation Facilities) to the SFOF.  A series of photos showed various work stations in the SFOF, as well as the technology being used in the facility (in the main operations area and behind the scenes).  During 1967 and 1968, JPL hosted visits by NASA staff, members of Congress, foreign dignitaries, JPL contractors/partners, former employees, student groups, professional groups, celebrities, and the press.

For more information about the history of JPL, contact the JPL Archives for assistance. [Archival sources: 318 and P photo albums and index.]

April 2017

April 30th, 2017
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Technician Classes
Photograph Number P-725A

As early as 1952, JPL supported professional development for its employees. In the 1950s and 60s, several different programs were created to provide professional and technical training: fees were paid for conferences, seminars, and outside courses; there were on-site (in-plant) training classes for engineers, supervisors, technical personnel, secretaries, and administrative staff; and tuition support was received for specialized training and degree programs. By 1963, more than 2,200 requests were approved each year.

In October 1956, Frank Ziol (an Associate Professor at Pasadena City College) spoke to a class of JPL technicians in the Building 121 cafeteria, next to the east gate. Technicians were the people who operated and maintained the various JPL wind tunnels and test facilities. Some of their in-plant classes included: Electronics for Non-electronic Personnel, Electronics for Electricians, Applied Physics, Effective Writing for Technicians, Descriptive Geometry, Vacuum Environment, Shop Practices, Machine Tools, and Graphic Arts Reproduction. The session above included information about how to use a slide rule, with an oversized visual aid. Some of these technicians went on to earn a degree and became engineers.

For more information about the history of JPL, contact the JPL Archives for assistance. [Archival sources: Lab-Oratory, 1963, various issues; P photo albums and index.]