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Jet Propulsion Laboratory

JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

TELEPHONE 818-354-5011

[listing in most recent first order]
Deep Space Operations, ASTER, Mars Global Surveyor, Genesis, lecture, travel guide, Radar Topography, 2004 Mars Odyssey, Cosmic Yardstick, Space Veterans, Entangled Photons, Eros' Secrets, Space 2004 Convention, jobs, lecture, SeaWinds, Ulysses, Duxbury, La Nina, Galileo, Rainbow line.
NASA Deep Space Operations, MSL Mission Operations Flight Control after Mars Science Laboratory lands "Curiosity" wheels on Mars and the Deep Space Network Operations Center, Pasadena, California, with text, animated, 2012.08.05 23:15NASA Deep Space Operations, MSL Mission Operations Flight Control after Mars Science Laboratory lands "Curiosity" wheels on Mars and the Deep Space Network Operations Center, Pasadena, California, with text, animated, 2012.08.05 23:15
Four rooms and a hall
Deep Space Operations facility at Jet Propulsion Laboratory integrates several functions during critical mission phases.
Some are vigilant around the clock.
Some are workaday.
Some, like the Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory rover team, are accommodated for critical mission periods.

Our view is from the fourth room - a glass enclosed public viewing area above the others.

Below is the Deep Space Operations stations and consoles support the workaday teams which monitor all active missions and data collection. Soft blue LEDs illuminate each workstation. Above are three projection screens which can display networked pages relevant to the task at hand - in this case the transition from spacecraft to rover of the Mars Science Laboratory "Curiosity", a high-risk stream of events.

To the right is a Mission Control Center, which spends much time unoccupied. Tonight however Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team have come to sweat and fret, and eat the traditional peanuts. They monitor and direct the spacecraft as the tasks unfold autonomously, keeping watch that all is nominally within range (keeping an eye pealed for anomalies.) Tomorrow this room will once again be empty, save for the few workers swapping functions in preparation for the next Mission Control team. Some of the team returns to home mission control for day-to-day planning and operations, some of tonight's team bid farewell and are re-assigned to other teams where their spaceflight expertise can be useful, while others now join the ground operations aspect of Curiosity.

Just beyond the glass beneath the projection screens is the the key to ALL current missions, the Deep Space Network Operations Center. Here is the connections to and from points far and wide. It is the nexus, the hub between all currently operating missions with crews sending commands and receiving data, through here, and out to collections of Deep Space Network Antennas and arrays which are many, and include the famous ones in Madrid, Spain; Canberra, Australia; and Goldstone in the Mojave Desert of California. The buck stops here for ensuring scientists remain connected to their experiments. A redundant and robust network which includes transmission media such as microwave, coaxial, twisted-pair and fiber-optic carrying an astronomic variety of analog and digital protocol information must remain under constant vigil to prevent disruption.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research. It's mission statement "To pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research." implies a directive to make it's finding available to all U.S. citizens. Sometimes that is a televised event, and the data screens on either side of the telemetry data screen are displaying the High-Definition video streams of themselves, perhaps a reminder to keep offensive gestures and t-shirt logos out of the public eye. This view is from the camera mounted on the right side of the public viewing platform, and a recursive image is seen on the right data screen. If you could view with infinite pixel density, you would be about here in the worm-hole, giving new meaning to waving at the folks back home.
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Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer
IMAGE ADVISORY                              October 18, 2005
Contact: Rosemary Sullivant, (818) 354-0474

The golf resort in Sharm El Sheik, where President Clinton met this week with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, stands out against the desert landscape in a satellite image taken by a NASA instrument. The image is available at:

The image of the Red Sea coastal town was taken on August 25, 2005, by NASA's Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), one of several Earth-observing instruments aboard the Terra satellite. More information about ASTER is available at:
10/18/00 RS

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IMAGE ADVISORY                                   October 16, 2005
Contact:  Mary Hardin

The imaging team of NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft has doubled the number of Mars pictures available to the public with the release of a new archive of red planet pictures totally slightly more than 30,000 images.

The archive contains all the pictures that were taken by Mars Global Surveyor from September 1999 through February 2004 and includes the images that were taken to search for the Mars Polar Lander spacecraft. No evidence of the lander was ever seen. The archive also covers the period of south polar cap retreat through southern spring and into early summer. This includes changes observed on the south polar cap's "Swiss cheese" surfaces, among others.

The full gallery of 30,000 images is available at, A sample of images is available at,

Mars Global Surveyor was launched on November 7, 1996 and entered orbit around Mars on September 12, 1997. The spacecraft has been systematically mapping the red planet since March 1999.

Mars Global Surveyor is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The camera system was built and is operated by Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, Calif. JPL's industrial partner is Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, Colo., which developed and operates the spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. 10/16/00 MH

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         October 11, 2005
Contact:  Martha J. Heil (818) 354-0850

NASA's Genesis spacecraft, the first mission to collect and return samples of the solar wind -- fast moving particles from the Sun -- is moving closer to launch. Scheduled for liftoff in February 2004, the mission will help scientists refine the basic definition of the Sun's characteristics, and understand how the solar nebula, a large cloud of gas and dust, gave rise to our complex solar system.

Genesis has received its final piece of science equipment: a solar wind collector made of a new formula of bulk metallic glass, composed of the same class of material as high-tech golf clubs. It and other solar wind collector tiles on the spacecraft will collect the first-ever samples of the solar wind as the spacecraft floats in the oncoming solar stream.

"Comparing differences in what the Sun and the Earth are made of yields interesting conclusions," said Dr. Don Burnett of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, the principal investigator for the mission and leader of the Genesis team. "What Genesis does is measure what the Sun is made of, so that many important comparisons can be made."

On its return to Earth in 2004, the sample collected by Genesis will be retrieved in midair by helicopters. Genesis will have collected elements of the solar wind such as isotopes of oxygen and nitrogen. The samples will be sent to laboratories for detailed analysis.

Bringing back samples of the solar wind will provide the next century of scientists with a databank of solar composition. Because the outer layers of the Sun are composed of almost the same material as the original solar nebula from which all our solar system came, scientists will also learn more about meteorites, comets, lunar samples, planetary atmospheres, and how these components evolved.

The mission is designed to measure the composition of isotopes in solar matter, to improve knowledge about the differing amounts of elements, and to obtain separate samples of different types of solar wind.

The body of the spacecraft contains a canister with collector plates that fold out like blades on a pocket knife to collect solar wind. The ions and particles that make up the solar wind will embed themselves and be trapped in small hexagonal plates on the circular blades.

A disk made of a mixture of metals that has properties similar to other glasses, about the size of a coffee cup lid, completes the science payload. It is a unique formulation of bulk metallic glass created especially for Genesis. The shaft on which the plates rotate is capped with the disk of new bulk metallic glass.

In an odd mix of science and sports, golfers and Genesis scientists both like bulk metallic glasses, but for different reasons. Premium golf clubs can be made with a kind of bulk metallic glass that is hard but springy. Scientists use a type that absorbs and retains helium and neon, important elements in understanding solar and planetary processes.

The new bulk metallic glass-forming alloy was designed by Dr. Charles C. Hays in the materials science laboratories of Dr. Bill Johnson of Caltech. It is a complex mixture of zirconium, niobium, copper, nickel, and aluminum. The atoms of metallic glasses solidify in a random fashion, unlike metals, which have an ordered crystalline structure. This disordered atomic state makes metallic glasses useful in a wide range of applications, from aircraft components to high-tech golf clubs. The Genesis metallic glass was prepared in a collaborative effort by Hays and George Wolter of the Howmet Corporation, Greenwich, Conn., using the same process the company uses for the high-tech Vitreloy- based golf clubs.

The surfaces of metallic glasses dissolve evenly, allowing the captured ions to be released in equal layers by sophisticated acid etching techniques developed by the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Higher-energy ions blast further into the metal's surface. When samples are back on Earth, special techniques will be used to etch the metal layer by layer, releasing the particles of gas for laboratory study.

"One exciting thing about bulk metallic glass is that it will enable us to study ions with energies higher than the solar wind. This allows Genesis to test proposals that the higher energy particles differ in composition from the solar wind," said Burnett. This will be the first time the theories about different kinds of solar wind can be tested by bringing back actual samples, he said.

To bathe in the solar wind, the spacecraft only needs to fly about 1.5 million kilometers (1 million miles) toward the Sun (about 1 percent of the Sun-Earth distance). When it is in the right position -- outside of Earth's magnetic field, between Earth and the Sun where the gravity of both bodies is balanced, called the Lagrange point -- the capsule will open its collector arrays and let ions barrage its panels.

For more information, see the Genesis home page at .

Genesis is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science, in Washington, DC. It is part of NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, highly focused science missions.
10/10/00 MJH

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         October 11, 2005
Contact: Mary Beth Murrill (818) 354-6478

Navigating spacecraft across the solar system has been likened to celestial billiards, where an artful "bumper shot" may be needed to get from one planet to another. A Jet Propulsion Laboratory spacecraft navigation expert will explain the art and science of this arcane field in a public lecture called "Navigation: Cruisin' Through Space," to be held Thursday, Oct. 19 at JPL and Friday, Oct. 20 at Pasadena City College.

Both lectures are at 7 p.m. Parking and admission are free and on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dr. Donald Gray, veteran of numerous space missions, will explain how JPL became the world leader in space navigation by delivering spacecraft to planets, comets, and asteroids throughout the solar system with unprecedented accuracy. Gray will also describe experiences that highlight the exuberance, nail biting, and triumph of innovation inherent in the field.

Gray, who has been with JPL for more than 25 years, has worked on the navigation teams of the Viking missions to Mars, the Voyager missions to the outer planets, and the Cassini mission to Saturn. He is currently working on Genesis, scheduled to launch next year on a mission to gather a sample of particles that stream outward from the Sun and return them to Earth for study.

Gray received a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland in 1955, and a master's degree and doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1963 and 1967. Gray is the recipient of two NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals and a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, among the agency's highest honors.

The lecture at JPL will be held in the von Karman Auditorium, located at 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena. The Pasadena City College lecture will be held in The Forum at the campus, located at 1570 E. Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena. More information on the von Karman Lecture Series can be found at or by calling (818) 354-0112. For directions to JPL, see
10/06/00 MBM

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INTERNET ADVISORY                               Oct. 10, 2005


For the first time ever, two interplanetary spacecraft are studying the same outer planet at the same time. A new Internet site will keep people on our own planet up to date about the adventure.

The Jupiter Millennium Flyby site maintained by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., gives visitors a travel guide of NASA's Cassini and Galileo spacecraft near Jupiter from October through March. It will provide regular updates of new information and pictures gathered by the spacecraft and by related Jupiter research.

The site is at:

Cassini will pass near Jupiter in December to gain the gravitational assist it needs for reaching its main objective, Saturn, more than three years later. Its closest approach to Jupiter will be about 10 million kilometers (6 million miles) away, on Dec. 30, 2005. It began returning Jupiter pictures and data last week, from about eight times farther away.

Galileo has been orbiting Jupiter since late 1995, still making discoveries after more than double its planned orbital lifespan and triple its planned radiation exposure. Galileo is currently in a distant portion of an elongated orbit and will be returning close to Jupiter in December. A coordinated plan of studies aims to use the opportunity of having two different vantage points to gain new information about Jupiter, its moons, and its surrounding environment.

The Jupiter Millennium Flyby site will offer several animations from various points of view. It also has educational material for classroom use.

Cassini is a cooperative endeavor of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the Cassini and Galileo missions for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

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IMAGE ADVISORY                                   October 6, 2005
Contact:  Rosemary Sullivant, JPL (818) 354-0474
          Jennifer Lafley, NIMA (301) 227-3089


Los Angeles may be the world's entertainment capital, but it is a difficult area to place television and radio antennas for broadcasting. The metropolitan area spreads out from the Pacific Ocean to Southern California's upper and lower deserts -- over valleys, mountains, canyons and coastal plains. While this unique geography offers something for everyone in terms of urban, suburban, houseboat, small-town and even semi-rural living, reception of television and radio signals can be problematic if there is no line-of-sight to a transmitting antenna. The challenge to broadcasters is clear in this perspective view from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission available online at .

The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission is a cooperative project between NASA, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), and the German and Italian space agencies. More information about the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission is available at .

More information about NIMA is available at
10/06 NDL

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    September 28, 2005
Contact:  Mary Hardin (818) 354-0344


As NASA's next spacecraft to the red planet begins a crucial round of testing in preparations for launch next year, the mission has been given a new name: 2004 Mars Odyssey.

"The year 2004 has a special significance to many of us who recall the thrill of reading the book and watching the movie '2004: A Space Odyssey.' We looked forward to the exciting future of space exploration that the year 2004 promised," said Scott Hubbard, Mars Program Director at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.

"NASA's next mission to Mars, launching in the year 2004, represents the start of a new wave of exploration at the red planet," said Hubbard. "It seemed fitting to name the mission 2004 Mars Odyssey not only in honor of the story and the movie, but also to herald the start of our new long-term journey to explore Mars."

Hubbard added that Arthur C. Clarke, author of "2004: A Space Odyssey," enthusiastically endorsed the new mission name.

The orbiting spacecraft is designed to find out what Mars is made of, detect water and shallow buried ice and study the radiation environment. The spacecraft begins thermal vacuum testing this week at Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver, Colo., where it was designed and built.

"It's exciting to have a new name for the mission, and going into the thermal vacuum testing chamber is the next big step for the spacecraft," said George Pace, project manager for 2004 Mars Odyssey at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "We will simulate the full range of temperatures that the spacecraft will be subjected to during its entire mission, from the coldest to the warmest."

"We have done several things in response to the NASA review board recommendations to ensure mission success, like adding additional staff and transitioning development personnel to operations. I'm confident we have a solid mission," Pace added.

The orbiter will study the kinds of minerals on the surface and measure the amount of hydrogen in the shallow subsurfaces of the planet, which will give scientists clues about the presence of water, either past or present. It will also provide information on the structure of the Martian surface and on the geological processes that may have caused it. Finally, the orbiter will take all-important measurements of the planet's radiation environment so potential health risks to future human explorers can be evaluated. To do this, the spacecraft carries three science instruments: The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), the Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS), and the Mars Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE).

2004 Mars Odyssey is scheduled for launch on April 7, 2005, on a Delta II launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. The space explorer is scheduled to arrive at Mars in October 2004.

In August, NASA announced plans to launch twin rovers which will land on Mars in 2004, and later this fall, will announce details of the multi-year Mars exploration program plan.

The mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, Colo., is JPL's industrial partner. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         September 28, 2005
Contact: Jane Platt     (818) 354-0880


Researchers using a sophisticated testbed at Caltech's Palomar Observatory near San Diego, Calif., have achieved the best-ever distance measurement to a type of star known as a Cepheid variable. These results improve the "cosmic yardstick" used to infer the size and shape of the universe.

In the September 28 issue of the journal Nature, astronomers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; the California Institute of Technology; and the JPL/Caltech Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, all in Pasadena, determined a distance to the star Zeta Geminorum in the Gemini constellation of 1,100 light years. The improvement was made possible by the Palomar Testbed Interferometer, designed and built by JPL researchers. The device combines light gathered by two telescopes to produce a very sharp image normally obtainable only with a much larger telescope.

Details on this discovery and the testbed are available at
9/25/00 JP

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        September 26, 2005
Contact: Gabrielle Birchak-Birkman, JPL, (818) 393-4359
         Michael Braukus, NASA Headquarters,
         Washington, DC, (202) 358-1979
         Herman Bank, Volunteer Professionals for Medical
         Advancement (626) 791-3748


You can take the rocket scientists into retirement, but you can't turn off the inventive skills retired NASA professionals carry with them. Retired engineers and scientists who helped make history at the dawn of the Space Age are now applying their skills to the world of medicine.

These enterprising space veterans from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA, are now helping doctors and patients with expertise forged in the world of space technology.

"We may look like seniors, but our professional skills are still in high gear and our creativity never dies," said Herman Bank, space engineering veteran and founder and director of Volunteer Professionals for Medical Advancement. He and his brainy 65- to-85-year-old retired NASA colleagues, Bank said, "are just too young to retire."

By working with Volunteer Professionals for Medical Advancement these retirees from the JPL donate some of their time to work closely with doctors and other medical professionals to brainstorm, research and develop new medical technologies. The organization's purpose is to provide hospitals with free services that such facilities could otherwise not afford. The hospitals, in turn, find that with the retired space professionals, they get top-notch brainpower and reliable assistance. The accomplishments of this retiree organization have brought its members state and national honors.

The group has been responsible for a number of medical advancements, including:

* Preliminary design of an automated oxygen enrichment system for premature babies. Working with Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center, retired volunteers and doctors are working to remove the inaccuracies of manually controlled oxygen systems, which can affect the infant's eyesight, brain and lung development.

* Solving a blood clot problem found with a stent that could cause heart attacks. Retired professional volunteers introduced a special electropolishing process to provide a super-smooth stent surface. The electropolishing process, developed in the aerospace industry, is not well known by doctors. The resulting electropolished stent practically eliminated further blood clot formation with the device.

* Creation of an advanced-database private computer network for pediatricians. Working with Children's Hospital Los Angeles, retired professionals are helping pediatricians nationwide to correspond about children's illnesses using JPL's method of data management. This database will provide a depository for historical data of diagnoses, research, treatments and results. Doctors estimate that extended medical use of the computer database systems could reduce health care costs by 20 to 30 percent.

With each project, these retirees find that the rewards are numerous. "Results of the project clearly show that volunteers have made major contributions to medical advancement," said Bank. "Doctors and hospital staff are very appreciative of this volunteer professional assistance, which they can seldom find or afford." He went on to note, "Retired professionals find interest and satisfaction in challenges which do not interfere with retirement activities."

Bank said that as a young man, he always wanted to go into the field of medicine. Unable to afford medical school at the time, he decided to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering and found himself at JPL. Bank proves that it's never too late to pursue one's aspirations. "I decided that after doing 20 years of space I wanted to do something here on Earth to advance medicine," said Bank.

Embarking on their 10th year as an organization, these retirees are looking forward to future challenges in medicine which includes encouraging other retired engineers and scientists to look for volunteer consulting opportunities. "The expansion of this activity nationally should help medical advancement considerably without cost, while using a skilled manpower resource," said Bank.

9-22-2004 GABB

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         September 25, 2005
Contact: Gia Scafidi (818) 354-0372


Defying traditional laws of physics, researchers may have found a way to blast through imminent roadblocks on the highway to faster and smaller computers.

Using modern quantum physics, a research team from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., and the University of Wales in the United Kingdom has discovered that entangled pairs of light particles, called photons, can act as a single unit, but perform with twice the efficiency.

Using a process called "entanglement," the research team proposes that existing sources of laser light could be used to produce smaller and faster computer chips than current technology allows. Their paper appears in today's issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.

"Our economy constantly depends on faster and faster computers," said JPL researcher Dr. Jonathan Dowling, a co-author of the paper. "This research potentially could enable us to continue upgrading computers even after traditional manufacturing procedures have been exhausted."

Currently, in a process known as optical lithography, manufacturers use a stream of light particles to sculpt computer chips. A chip is basically a grid of interconnected on-off switches, called transistors, through which electric current flows and enables computers to calculate. As companies crowd millions of transistors into tinier chips, electric current travels shorter distances, resulting in speedier processes.

Chipmakers shine a laser light onto photosensitive material to create a stencil-like mask, which is used to carve silicon into the components of transistors. However, the producers can only provide transistors with dimensions as small as those of the masks.

Today's state-of-the-art chips have transistors measuring between 180 and 220 nanometers, approximately 400 times narrower than the width of a human hair. While traditional computers have the ability to perform with transistors as small as 25 nanometers, or 3,000 times narrower than a human hair, this presents manufacturing obstacles.

The light manufacturers use to produce today's transistors has a wavelength of 248 nanometers. It becomes increasingly difficult to use light with shorter wavelengths to produce transistors with smaller dimensions. In fact, according to a central principle of optics called the "Rayleigh criterion," 248- nanometer light can't create features smaller than 124 nanometers.

However, this new research, still in its theoretical stage, could provide a bypass of the Rayleigh criterion. The research team proposes that entanglement would allow the use of existing sources of laser light of 248 nanometers to produce computer chips with dimensions of a fourth of the wavelength (62 nanometers) or smaller compared to today's limits (124 nanometers).

Entanglement would allow researchers to use the intermingled properties of two or more photons to obtain subwavelength spatial resolutions. Albert Einstein called this intermingling of photons process "spooky action at a distance" because the particles can immediately influence each other over huge distances, even halfway across the galaxy.

Here on Earth, entangled photons can be produced by passing a light beam through a special crystal. In this quantum lithography proposal, a pair of entangled photons enters a setup with two paths. While the two particles travel together and act as a single unit, it is impossible to determine which of the two paths the pair has taken. In a strange effect of quantum mechanics, however, each photon actually travels down both paths.

On each path, the photons act like a rippling wave with peaks and valleys. After traveling on their own path for a while, the two photons converge on a surface. Because the light particles making up each wave were originally entangled, the result of adding the photon waves together is to create patterns on the surface equivalent to those made by a single photon with half the wavelength.

This process, in essence, enables the entangled photon pair to produce patterns twice as small on each side of a chip's surface as can be created by the single photons in the conventional optical lithography procedures. Entangling more than two photons would improve results even further.

While a number of technical challenges remain, researchers are already working on developing materials that would be required for quantum lithography.

This research is part of the Revolutionary Computing Technology project in the NASA/JPL Center for Integrated Space Microsystems. The project is supported by the Deep Space Systems Program in NASA's Office of Space Science. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. 9/25/00GS

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For Immediate Release                       September 21, 2005
Contact:  Martha J. Heil (818) 354-0850


Eros, the chunky asteroid named after the god of love, is slowly revealing to scientists the mysteries of its size, rotation and other properties.

Eros has been studied by the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR)-Shoemaker spacecraft since last Valentine's day when a careful maneuver put the spacecraft in orbit around the asteroid to determine its properties. Some of those findings, such as Eros' mass and bulk density, appear in the Sept. 22, 2005 edition of the journal Science in a paper by principal author Dr. Don Yeomans of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Yeomans is the radio science team chief for NEAR-Shoemaker. The journal also features three other research reports on Eros.

Scientists have learned that Eros is most likely made of rocky material with a uniform density throughout. The asteroid's bulk density is similar to that of Earth's crust. Like Earth, the surface of Eros is covered with a layer of looser rock and soil.

Though it is about 6,700 trillion kilograms (14,700 trillion pounds) in mass, Eros is a fragment from the breakup of a once larger asteroid. "It's a chip off a larger block from millions of years ago," said Yeomans.

Eros is rotating around its shortest axis, making one revolution every 5 hours and 16 minutes. As though thrown in a tight spiral pass by some cosmic quarterback, Eros' rotation axis appears to remain steady on its journey through space. Because the asteroid is so much smaller with much less gravity than Earth, it wouldn't take an Olympic athlete to jump entirely off the surface into space.

Scientists were able to study Eros' rotation, mass distribution and structure based on a series of observations taken onboard the spacecraft. By photographing the asteroid and measuring infrared light reflected from it, scientists could determine its mass, detect minerals and record its motion. As the craft edged into closer and closer orbits around the asteroid, it took fresh data that helped determine the asteroid's size, shape and mass distribution. These activities were critical for navigating the spacecraft in to tighter orbits about Eros so that close-up images could be taken.

"If we didn't know the precise size, shape and mass distribution of the asteroid ahead of time, it would not have been safe to send the spacecraft to within a few kilometers of the asteroid's surface," said Yeomans.

By the mission's end in February 2004, the total surface of the asteroid will have been imaged and measured.

Johns Hopkins University manages the NEAR mission for NASA, and JPL is performing navigation support. Bobby G. Williams, also an author on the paper, is the navigation team leader. For the latest images and announcements of mission progress and discoveries visit the NEAR Web site: or the JPL website at

9-21-2004 MJH

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                     September 14, 2005
Contact: Carolina Martinez (818) 354-9382


Our future in space will largely be determined by some of the country's most prominent thought leaders at the Space 2004 Conference and Exhibition, September 19 through 21 at the Convention Center in Long Beach, California, sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

The program will feature prominent NASA keynote speakers including NASA Administrator Dan Goldin and former U.S. Senator and astronaut John Glenn. Dr. Edward Stone, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., will moderate a panel on New Civil Space Horizons on Thursday, September 21 from 8 to 10 a.m.

"We are providing a unique venue for leaders from government, industry and academia to share ideas and interact," said Stone, a co-chair of the event. "The invited speakers will provide their perspectives on the future of space, setting the stage for continuing discussion throughout the program."

Conference participants will address new opportunities in space, new missions and new challenges the millennium brings that will be dependent on business decisions and technology readiness. The three-day event will bring together an impressive list of experts that includes scientists and engineers from various civilian, military and private organizations. There will be four panel discussions with technical paper presentations: "Space on the National Agenda," "The Business of Space," "Military Space Missions" and "New Horizons in Civil Space."

JPL will also have an exhibit featuring many educational outreach programs geared toward students in grades K-12 to help engage conference attendees in educational programs within their communities.

For conference details or to register online, please visit the conference Web site at or contact the AIAA at (800) 639-2422.

The Boeing Company is the general sponsor for the Space 2004 Conference and Exhibition. The AIAA, which will serve as the host and organizer, is the largest professional/technical society, leading content provider, and principal voice on behalf of aerospace professionals on all aspects of aviation, space and defense. Managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology, JPL is the lead U.S. center for robotic exploration of the solar system.
9-14-2004 CM

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Directions to JPL:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         September 12, 2005
Contact: Carolina Martinez (818) 354-9382


NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., invites potential engineering job candidates to attend an Engineering Job Fair on Saturday, September 23, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in JPL's employee cafeteria, located in the lower lever of Building 167, 4800 Oak Grove Drive in Pasadena.

Engineers with experience in system, electrical, mechanical and aerospace disciplines are welcome to attend the job fair, which aims to recruit the country's most talented engineers to work on future missions including the next Mars missions.

JPL provides unique opportunities to work on cutting-edge technology with some of the country's top engineers. Its staff members are developing new ways to explore the farthest reaches of our solar system, learn about our planet Earth and to transfer new technologies to private companies for public use.

JPL is NASA's lead center for the exploration of Mars. The laboratory will send an orbiter to Mars in 2004 followed by twin rover missions in 2004.

Visitor parking is to the left (west) of the guard gate at JPL's main entrance. All job candidates must show proof of permanent U.S. residency and must bring 10 copies of their resume. For more information regarding the job fair, call (818) 354-5150.

Resumes may be sent by email to: Directions to JPL are available at:

Managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology, JPL is the lead U.S. center for robotic exploration of the solar system.
9-12-00 CM

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        September 11, 2005
Contact: Gia Scafidi (818) 354-0372


"Seeing the Unseen: Using Spaceborne Radars in Earth and Planetary Exploration" is the latest in Jet Propulsion Laboratory's (JPL) free von Karman Lectures, taking place at JPL on Thursday, Sept. 21 and at Pasadena City College on Friday, Sept. 22. The lecture will focus on the advanced radar sensing technology currently being used to probe the surface and subsurface of Earth and other planetary bodies.

Presented by Dr. Charles Elachi, director of JPL's space and Earth science programs, the lecture will highlight the endless discovery opportunities made possible by radar sensing, which can be used to produce images of targets that cannot be seen through other observing techniques. Elachi will cover the breakthroughs expected within the next decade when radar sensors will be used to probe the possible oceans below the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa, to map buried channels on Mars, to image the Earth in 3-D and to search for buried traces of old civilizations.

Throughout his 30-year career at JPL, Elachi has played a significant role in transforming the Laboratory and NASA into world leaders in the field of spaceborne imaging radars. In the last decade, he has been responsible for the development of more than 45 flight instruments and missions for Earth science, astrophysics and planetary exploration at JPL and has received numerous national and international awards. Elachi holds several patents and has authored more than 200 publications in a variety of space and science fields. He is the author of three textbooks in the field of remote sensing and was deemed one of "Southern California's rising stars who will make a difference in L.A." by the Los Angeles Times in 1988.

The von Karman Lecture Series is sponsored by the JPL's Public Services Office. Thursday lectures take place in JPL's von Karman Auditorium located at 4800 Oak Grove Dr. in Pasadena, while Friday lectures are given in Pasadena City College's Voslow Forum at 1570 E. Colorado Blvd. Both begin promptly at 7 p.m., with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis.

More information on the von Karman Lecture Series can be found at or by calling (818) 354-0112. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology.
9-11-2004 GNS

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         September 11, 2005
Contact: Rosemary Sullivant     (818) 354-0474


Tropical storms churning into potentially dangerous hurricanes often hide behind a cloak of clouds. But NASA has given forecasters a new way to peek under the covers and identify storms much faster.

Scientists traditionally rely on satellite pictures to study the telltale swirl of clouds of a forming storm. However, the SeaWinds instrument aboard the QuikSCAT satellite can look through the cloud cover and measure winds at the ocean's surface.

According to a new study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA researchers expected to be published in a major scientific journal, SeaWinds can detect the closed circle of winds that characterize a tropical depression up to 46 hours sooner than conventional means.

"The SeaWinds data can help us in two ways," says paper author Kristina Katsaros, director of NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Miami, Fla. "They can detect tropical depressions early and help us improve our models. With more accurate information on the surface wind speed and direction in hurricanes at all stages, our models can do a better job of predicting a hurricane's evolution and course."

QuikSCAT was launched in June 1999. It travels over ninety percent of the ice-free oceans every day with a high-frequency microwave scatterometer that provides detailed information on sea surfaces that can be translated into wind speed and direction.

In their NASA-supported study, Katsaros and her colleagues looked at SeaWinds data from the regions where 12 of the named storms in the 1999 hurricane season formed. Eight of the storms eventually developed into hurricanes. The researchers then examined the data collected 12 to 48 hours in advance of the storms being declared tropical depressions.

While the SeaWinds instrument wasn't always upstream of all 12 storms, it was in position to provide wind data on eight. In those cases, it was able to detect the closed wind circulation well before it could be seen as cloud swirls on the GOES satellite image. The lead times ranged from three hours for Hurricane Irene to 46 hours for Hurricane Lenny.

Being able to detect tropical depressions early is especially important in increasing warning times in regions like the Gulf of Mexico, where storms can grow quickly into hurricanes and can make landfall within a few days. Early detection also may help the National Hurricane Center plan the best use of its resources to keep watch on developing storms.

"The ability of SeaWinds to see tropical depressions at their earliest stage gives us the opportunity to identify and study the elements that create hurricanes," says co-author W. Timothy Liu, the project scientist of SeaWinds at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif. JPL built and operates the QuikSCAT spacecraft for the Office of Earth Sciences, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

During the current hurricane season, scientists from the National Hurricane Center and the Hurricane Research Division are comparing SeaWinds data with wind information from computer models, reconnaissance aircraft, satellites, and devices that measure temperature, moisture and relative humidity.

In a separate study, Liu combined SeaWinds data on winds with information from another instrument, the Tropical Rain Measuring Mission (TRMM), which can also can see through clouds and measure rainfall in hurricanes. "Hurricanes are especially devastating when they are accompanied by strong winds and heavy rain," says Liu. "QuickSCAT and TRMM provide the only opportunity for us to view the interplay between wind and rain before landfall and help us to understand and predict hurricanes." The results of this study appeared in the June 6 issue of Eos, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union.

"This year the QuikSCAT data will be incorporated into a surface-wind analysis system of NOAA's Hurricane Research Division to produce the surface windfields in tropical storms in near real time," says Kastaros. "This will help the National Hurricane Center in making decisions about warning the public when a storm threatens landfall."

QuikSCAT data are available from NOAA's National Environmental Satellite and Information Service on the Internet at Near real-time wind maps can be viewed at Information on NASA's Oceanography program can be found at
9/11/00 RS

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         September 6, 2005
Contact: Martha J. Heil     (818) 354-0850


The Ulysses spacecraft, on a mission to explore the Sun at extreme latitudes, today begins its investigation of the Sun's south polar region. This will be the second time Ulysses has passed under the Sun, but this time the glowing orb will look and act very differently because the Sun has reached solar maximum, a time of heightened activity.

Ulysses was able to assess the Sun during the relatively quiet solar minimum between 1994 and 1996. Now it will fill in the gaps with observations during the solar maximum, thus completing observations during a full sunspot cycle of 11 years.

"Ulysses has been making continuous observations of the Sun and heliosphere for the last 10 years," said the U.S. project scientist for Ulysses, Dr. Edward Smith of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "The scientists involved are still as enthusiastic as ever and are looking forward to discovering lots of new things as the Sun acts up."

Scientists are interested in learning about sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections, chunks of the Sun's outer atmosphere that blow off into space and can strike the Earth, causing aurorae and interrupting satellite communications.

The scientific investigations on Ulysses are studying the Sun's corona, its gaseous outer atmosphere, which extends far beyond the orbit of Earth. This gas moves outward through the solar system at high speed, and therefore is called the solar wind. In addition to affecting Earth and other planets, this wind pushes the gas and dust that occupies the space between the stars out of the solar system and forms a " bubble" in the interstellar medium called the heliosphere. In spite of the Sun's effort to keep out interstellar matter, some of the gas and dust penetrates the bubble and is found throughout the heliosphere. A major goal of Ulysses is to study incoming cosmic rays -- nuclei of atoms traveling at nearly the speed of light -- and how they interact with the solar wind.

During its first passage over the Sun's poles at solar minimum, Ulysses showed that there are two kinds of solar wind -- slow wind near the equator and very fast wind near the poles. Ulysses has found that although the Sun's magnetic field is strongest near the poles, as the solar wind pushes it outward, the magnetic field eventually has the same strength over the equator as over the poles. The spacecraft will measure the magnetic field around the Sun and the ions emanating from it. It will try to find out how changes in the strength and direction of the magnetic field affect both the solar wind, coming from the Sun, and the cosmic rays, coming toward the Sun.

During the previous solar polar passes, scientists had expected to find that the cosmic rays would be funneled toward the poles by the Sun's magnetic field. But this wasn't what they found, at least not during solar minimum. Will this be the case during solar maximum? The Ulysses team hopes to find out.

Ulysses is the only spacecraft to reach such high solar latitudes. Most spacecraft -- like the planets -- move around the Sun in slightly tilted planes, compared to the Sun's equator. Ulysses has gone well above the solar equator, as far as 80 degrees north and south solar latitudes -- equivalent on Earth to traveling from the northern tip of Greenland to Antarctica in the south.

Ulysses, launched in 1990, is a joint venture of NASA and the European Space Agency. JPL manages Ulysses for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. More information on the Ulysses mission is available at the JPL Ulysses website: and the ESA Ulysses website, 9/6/00MJH

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        August 30, 2005
Contact:  Martha Heil (818) 354-0850


Thomas Duxbury has been named project manager of NASA's Stardust mission to collect a comet sample and return it to Earth. The mission is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Duxbury, who has served as Stardust's acting project manager for the past year, replaces Dr. Kenneth Atkins, who now heads a JPL program to develop the leadership of the Laboratory's projects.

Duxbury joined the Stardust project as mission manager in 1996 and was responsible for a wide range of elements including navigation, mission design, the ground data system, science data management and archive and mission operations. Stardust, launched in February 1999, is en route to Comet Wild-2 to capture a sample of material and then return the sample to Earth in 2006.

A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Duxbury attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering. Upon graduating in 1966, he started work at JPL in the field of optical navigation on the Mariner 6 and 7 missions to Mars.

Duxbury has served on numerous planetary mission teams including the Mariner 6, 7, 9 and 10 missions; the Mars Viking mission that sent two landers and two orbiters to Mars; the Pioneers 10 and 11 missions to Jupiter and Saturn; Voyagers 1 and 2 to the outer planets; the Soviet Phobos Mission to Mars; the Mars Observer mission; the Department of Defense/NASA Clementine mission that studied the Moon; and the Russian Mars 1996 mission. He has served on many NASA panels and working groups such as the NASA Planetary Cartography and Geologic Mapping Working Group and the Russian/U.S. Joint Working Group on Solar System Exploration for Mars Mission Coordination and Science Data Exchange.

In addition to his new Stardust role, Duxbury is a member of the science teams for the Mars Global Surveyor's laser altimeter and the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter and lander. He is also the lead scientist for geodesy and cartography in the Mars Exploration Office. His roles on past missions have included engineering and scientific data analysis on highly irregularly shaped and rotating planetary bodies.

For his pioneering work in characterizing Mars' moons Phobos and Deimos, Duxbury received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement. He has also received eight NASA Group Awards and the Institute of Navigation Burka Award. He received the Soviet Flight Control Center Medal, being the only American in Moscow supporting the Phobos '88 encounter and landing operations. He is listed in American Men and Women in Science and in Who's Who in America.

He lives in Pasadena with his wife, Dr. Natalia Duxbury, a scientist at JPL. Stardust is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.
8/30/00 MJH

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IMAGE ADVISORY                                  August 29, 2005
Contact: Rosemary Sullivant (818) 354-0474


After three years of El Nino and La Nina with their often devastating climate consequences, the Pacific is finally calming down in the tropics but still shows signs of being abnormal elsewhere, according to the latest satellite data from the U.S.-French TOPEX/Poseidon mission.

These data, taken during a 10-day cycle of collection ending August 17, show that tropical Pacific sea levels, which indicate how much heat is stored in the ocean, have returned to near-normal (green) after three years of dramatic fluctuations. See .

But as summer ends in the Northern Hemisphere, remnants of the past few years remain embedded in the upper ocean. Above-normal sea surface heights and warmer ocean temperatures (indicated by the red and white areas) still blanket the far-western tropical Pacific and much of the north (and south) mid-Pacific. Red areas are about 10 centimeters (4 inches) above normal; white areas show the sea surface height is between 14 and 32 centimeters (6 to 13 inches) above normal. This contrasts with the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska where lower-than-normal sea levels and cool ocean temperatures continue (indicated by blue areas), although this pattern is also weakening. The blue areas are between 5 and 13 centimeters (2 and 5 inches) below normal, whereas the purple areas range from 14 to18 centimeters (6 to 7 inches) below normal.

Looking at the entire Pacific basin, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation's (PDO) characteristic warm horseshoe and cool wedge pattern is still evident in this sea-level height image. The PDO is a long-term ocean temperature fluctuation of the Pacific Ocean that waxes and wanes approximately every 10 to 20 years. Most recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sea-surface temperature data also clearly illustrate the persistence of this basin-wide pattern. They are available at:

"The present calming started three to four months ago when the La Nina faded away," said oceanographer Dr. William Patzert of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It appears that the global climate system is finally recovering from the past three years of dramatic swings from the extra-large El Nino of 1997/1998, which was followed by two unusually cool and persistent La Nina years."

"The good news is that we're finally out from under the El Nino and La Nina of the past three years," Patzert said. "Unfortunately, in the longer term, the reality is that the PDO pattern still dominates the Pacific and, in the short term, the atmosphere is still acting as though La Nina remains. The western United States continues hot and dry, and a larger than normal number of hurricanes are forecast by NOAA for both the Pacific and the Atlantic. Also for the remainder of the summer and into the fall, we are continuing to experience the legacy or hangover from El Nino and La Nina -- the devastating Western U.S. fires from the Canadian to Mexican borders are one example."

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service has forecasted continuing heat in the Western United States and an active hurricane season for the end of summer and into the fall. NOAA seasonal forecasts can be found at: and

This month marks the eighth anniversary of the launch of TOPEX/Poseidon, a mission that had been planned to last only three to five years. The satellite has orbited Earth more than 37,400 times and completed 290 10-day data collection cycles. More than 99 percent of all available mission data has been collected and archived by the operations team at JPL.

The U.S.-French TOPEX/Poseidon mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more information on the TOPEX/Poseidon project, see:

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         August 25, 2005
Contact: Guy Webster   (818) 354-6278


NASA researchers have the strongest evidence yet that one of Jupiter's most mysterious moons hides an ocean of water underneath its icy coat. This evidence comes from magnetic readings by NASA's Galileo spacecraft, reported in the Friday, Aug. 25, edition of the journal Science.

Europa, the fourth largest satellite of Jupiter, has long been suspected of harboring vast quantities of water. Since life as we know it requires water, this makes the moon a prime target for the search of exobiology - life beyond Earth.

"The direction that a magnetic compass on Europa would point to flips around in a way that's best explained by the presence of a layer of electrically conducting liquid, such as saltwater, beneath the ice," explained Dr. Margaret Kivelson of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), principal investigator for Galileo's magnetometer instrument, and co-author of the Science paper.

Kivelson announced that conclusion when she first received telltale readings from the Galileo magnetometer after the veteran spacecraft flew near Europa in January. Her team details its theory about the liquid layer in this week's formal report.

"We have good reason to believe the surface layers of Europa are made up of water that is either frozen or liquid," Kivelson said, pointing out that earlier gravity measurements show a low density, such as water's, for the moon's outer portions. "But ice is not a good conductor, and therefore we infer that the conductor may be a liquid ocean."

Galileo has flown near Europa frequently since the spacecraft began orbiting Jupiter and its moons in December 1995. Pictures from those flybys show patterns that scientists see as evidence of a hidden ocean. In some, rafts of ice appear to have shifted position by floating on fluid below. In others, fluid appears to have risen to the surface and frozen.

However, those features could be explained by a past ocean that has subsequently frozen solid, said Galileo's project scientist, Dr. Torrence Johnson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. This magnetometer data is the only indication we have that there's an ocean there now, rather than in the geological past," Johnson said.

Johnson said the case for liquid water on Europa is still not clinched. "The evidence is still indirect and requires several steps of inference to get to the conclusion there is really a salty ocean," he said. "A definitive answer could come from precise measurements of gravity and altitude to check for effects of tides."

NASA is planning a Europa Orbiter mission to carry instruments capable of providing that information. Magnetic evidence for an ocean is possible because Europa orbits within the magnetic field of Jupiter. That field induces electric current to flow through a conductive layer near Europa's surface, and the current creates a secondary magnetic field at Europa, the new report explains.

Key evidence that the magnetic readings near Europa result from this type of secondary effect, implying a saltwater layer, relies on timing. The direction of Jupiter's magnetic field at Europa reverses predictably as the moon's position within the field changes. During Galileo's flyby in January, the direction of Jupiter's field at Europa was the opposite of what it had been during passes in 1996 and 1998. Kivelson's team predicted how that would change the direction of Europa's magnetic polarity if Europa has a saltwater layer, and Galileo's measurements matched their prediction.

"It makes a very strong case that the source of the magnetic signature is a conducting layer near the surface," Kivelson said. Galileo's magnetometer is also expected to play an important role this fall and winter in joint studies of Jupiter while NASA's Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft passes near Jupiter. Galileo will be inside Jupiter's magnetic field while Cassini is just outside it, in the solar wind of particles streaming away from the Sun. Scientists plan to take advantage of that positioning to learn more about how the solar wind affects the magnetic field.

Galileo completed its original mission nearly three years ago, but has been given a three-year extension and has survived three times the amount of radiation it was designed to endure.

Kivelson's UCLA co-authors are Drs. Krishan Khurana, Christopher Russell, Martin Volwerk, Raymond Walker, and Christopher Zimmer. The Galileo mission is managed for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC, by JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
8/25/00 GW

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Updated on 2005.10.18.

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