For space and science buffs, and anyone with an interest in NASA satellite and rover programs, the Visitor Day JPL Tour at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena is an exciting and informative experience.
While school groups and public groups can sign up for their own specific tour, smaller groups, families and individuals can sign up to join one of the Visitor Day Tours held weekly. These tours usually admit nearly 100 people and are then separated into two or three smaller groups.
Typically, the tour begins with check-in at the Visitor Reception Center, which also houses a small gift shop. Then, the group heads to the von Karmen Visitor Center to watch a short movie produced by JPL’s own media crew and to view the models of satellites and rovers produced on site over the past several decades.
Then, the smaller groups tour the JPL campus, visiting the Spacecraft Assembly Facility in which they can see the current project being worked on in the clean room. The final months of 2019 were particularly exciting for tour attendees as the final components and tests on the 2020 Mars Rover were assembled and completed.
Tour visitors may visit the Earth Science Center and the Space Flight Operations Facility, also known as Mission Control. Much of the Space Flight Operations Facility work includes collecting data from satellites and space craft in deep space, which monitor everything from the Moon and beyond. The Deep Space Network collects information received by dishes throughout the world, from satellites including Voyager I and II, Juno and many more.
There’s a lot of surprising and interesting information shared on the tour, about deep space work, Mars rovers and the ongoing, intensive study of the Earth, along with the history of JPL.
Each tour lasts two to two-and-a-half hours and must be signed up for in advance online via the JPL tour link located here. Tours fill up quickly, and new dates are offered three months in advance at the beginning of the month, so planning and vigilance are the key to securing a tour date.
Other requirements include all attendees being able to present government-issued identification. There are accommodations for disabled visitors, and JPL requests alerting them ahead of time of accessibility needs.
The JPL Tour is free and open to the public. Tours are held rain or shine and include significant walking and stairs. Free parking is available in lots adjacent to the visitor’s office. NASA JPL is located at 4800 Oak Grove Drive in Pasadena, near the 210 Freeway.
Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.