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Jet Propulsion Laboratory Archives: Past Historical Photos of the Month

Guide for accessing all types of materials in the JPL Archives.

July 2022

P-3883A; Photo by Jim McClure (1620)

The Space Flight Operations Facility (SFOF) has been undergoing so many renovations over the past few years! This side-by-side, taken 1964-09-03 and 2021-09-21 show just how much SFOF has changed (or not) over time.

As of 1963, directly behind the Central Engineering Building (CEB), which became the new headquarters for the Lab, SFOF was under construction. The hub of JPL, SFOF has hosted such historic moments as the launch of Rangers and Mariners all the way to Mars2020, JPL staff orientations, and the rise of the lucky peanuts. As a facility that played such a critical role in the history of space exploration, SFOF was designated a national historic landmark in July 1994.

Today, SFOF is a regular stop on JPL general tours, open houses, and other JPL-hosted events. From its amazing viewing gallery, to the Lucky Peanuts, to the Center of the Universe, SFOF remains one of the main highlights of the JPL landscape. CL#21-5954

February 2022

P-80A

On 17 July 1952, the first class of The Corporal Guided Missile Training School held its graduation ceremony at White Sands Proving Ground (WSPG), Las Cruces, New Mexico. 52 students were conferred Certificates of Graduation by then-JPL Director, Dr. Louis G. Dunn and Army Ordnance Coordinating Officer, Lt. Col. T.H. Ebbert.

The Corporal Guided Missile Training School consisted of officers, enlisted men, and civilians whom the Army deemed ‘instructor material.’ Students, who all possessed previous electronic and mechanical engineering training to some degree, attended courses that trained them in the use of guided missiles, in both the utilization of personnel and of the technical phases. These graduates went on to teach courses in all levels of the guided missile program to various Army units. 

Courses were held at the JPL Training Laboratory, McCornack General Hospital, Pasadena, and JPL facilities were used as supplemental space. The JPL Military Training Lab moved to this location in March 1952, and included 19 instructors – 10 military and 9 civilians. Originally organized under Section 15 Chief, Robert B. Rypinski, following the relocation, the school operated under Division 3, and was overseen by Dr. William H. Pickering. CL#21-5950

November 2021

324-1521Bc, Views of Mars from Mariner 9 

13 November marks the 50th anniversary of Mariner 9 becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet in 1971 – Mars! One of a series of ten Mariner spacecrafts, this unmanned orbiter was tasked with studying the Martian surface and atmosphere. Beating the Soviet craft Mars 2 to the Red Planet, Mariner 9 ultimately mapped over 85% of the Martian surface, which was a mission inherited from its failed twin, Mariner 8. 

For nearly a year, Mariner 9 carried out its mission, collecting data on the composition of the Martian surface and atmosphere. Of the more than 7,000 images it transmitted, some of the most significant were the first detailed views of the solar system's largest volcano, a canyon system that dwarfs the Grand Canyon, and provided the first closeup pictures of Mars’ two small, irregular moons, Phobos and Deimos. 

Mariner 9’s mission officially ended on 27 October 1972, but remains in Areocentric orbit until at least 2022, when it is projected to fall out of orbit and into the Martian atmosphere. 

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov. 

352-5755Bc, Mariner 9 preparing for thermal vacuum test 

13 November marks the 50th anniversary of Mariner 9 becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet in 1971 – Mars! One of a series of ten Mariner spacecrafts, this unmanned orbiter was tasked with studying the Martian surface and atmosphere. Beating the Soviet craft Mars 2 to the Red Planet, Mariner 9 ultimately mapped over 85% of the Martian surface, which was a mission inherited from its failed twin, Mariner 8. 

For nearly a year, Mariner 9 carried out its mission, collecting data on the composition of the Martian surface and atmosphere. Of the more than 7,000 images it transmitted, some of the most significant were the first detailed views of the solar system's largest volcano, a canyon system that dwarfs the Grand Canyon, and provided the first closeup pictures of Mars’ two small, irregular moons, Phobos and Deimos. 

Mariner 9’s mission officially ended on 27 October 1972, but remains in Areocentric orbit until at least 2022, when it is projected to fall out of orbit and into the Martian atmosphere. 

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov. 

352-5765Ac, Full scale model of Mariner 9 

13 November marks the 50th anniversary of Mariner 9 becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet in 1971 – Mars! One of a series of ten Mariner spacecrafts, this unmanned orbiter was tasked with studying the Martian surface and atmosphere. Beating the Soviet craft Mars 2 to the Red Planet, Mariner 9 ultimately mapped over 85% of the Martian surface, which was a mission inherited from its failed twin, Mariner 8. 

For nearly a year, Mariner 9 carried out its mission, collecting data on the composition of the Martian surface and atmosphere. Of the more than 7,000 images it transmitted, some of the most significant were the first detailed views of the solar system's largest volcano, a canyon system that dwarfs the Grand Canyon, and provided the first closeup pictures of Mars’ two small, irregular moons, Phobos and Deimos. 

Mariner 9’s mission officially ended on 27 October 1972, but remains in Areocentric orbit until at least 2022, when it is projected to fall out of orbit and into the Martian atmosphere. 

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov

August 2021

353-180A

August 23rd marks the 60th anniversary of the failed launch of Ranger 1. Launched on August 23, 1961 at 6:04AM from Atlas Agena in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Ranger 1 was the first in a series of nine spacecraft launched in the early 1960s to explore the Moon. Designed to make a highly elliptical Earth orbit, and carrying several science instruments for studying cosmic rays, magnetic fields, and energetic particles, this orbiter ushered in both a trying and rich season of discovery for JPL.

During launch, a rocket malfunction caused the spacecraft to get stranded in low-Earth orbit, and one week after its launch, Ranger 1 burned up upon reentering Earth’s atmosphere. This, and the failure of the next five Rangers, did, however, lead us to one of JPL’s most cherished pieces of culture: the Lucky Peanuts.

Mission Trajectory Engineer, Dick Wallace, passed out peanuts the morning of the launch of Ranger 7, in the hopes of calming people’s nerves. When this Ranger performed flawlessly, JPL’s favorite superstition took hold, and now peanuts grace mission control facilities during launches, landings, flybys, and other critical mission stages. CL#21-0723

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

 

M2020 Launch Activities in SFOF, Lucky Peanuts. Photo taken by Thom Wynne (1841)

23 August 1961, 6:04AM marks the 60th anniversary of the failed launch of Ranger 1. Launched from Atlas Agena in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Ranger 1 was the first in a series of nine spacecraft launched in the early 1960s to explore the Moon. Designed to make a highly elliptical Earth orbit, and carrying several science instruments for studying cosmic rays, magnetic fields, and energetic particles, this orbiter ushered in both a trying and rich season of discovery for JPL.

During launch, a rocket malfunction caused the spacecraft to get stranded in low-Earth orbit, and one week after its launch, Ranger 1 burned up upon reentering Earth’s atmosphere. This, and the failure of the next five Rangers, did, however, lead us to one of JPL’s most cherished pieces of culture: the Lucky Peanuts.

Mission Trajectory Engineer, Dick Wallace, passed out peanuts the morning of the launch of Ranger 7, in the hopes of calming people’s nerves. When this Ranger performed flawlessly, JPL’s favorite superstition took hold, and now peanuts grace mission control facilities during launches, landings, flybys, and other critical mission stages. CL#21-3533

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

May 2021

P-788B 

140 years ago, on 11 May 1881, JPL founder, Dr. Theodore von Kármán, was born in Budapest, Austria-Hungary. Prolific mathematician, physicist, and aerospace engineer, von Kármán is responsible for multiple key advancements in aerodynamics, most notably his work on supersonic and hypersonic airflow characterization. 

In 1930, after pursuing multiple engineering and aeronautics degrees and positions throughout Europe, he accepted the directorship of the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT). It was here that he, along with Frank Malina and Jack Parsons, founded Aerojet to manufacture JATO rocket motors. After World War II initiated an increase in militaristic interest in rocket research, von Karman was repeatedly consulted, and he and his partners at GALCIT went on to found the home of the great work that you all do today, JPL! 

At age 81, von Kármán became the first recipient of the National Medal of Science from the Kennedy Administration, recognizing him for his immense contributions to engineering and aerospace. The above image, taken 30 March 1957, represents one of von Kármán’s JPL portraits, taken in his office. 

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov. 

February 2021

P-787D

Were you hit by Cupid’s bow or just the JPL Archery Club!? In this photo, taken 27 March 1957, former President of the JPL Archery Club, Sr. Electronic Technician, Don Hoff “gets assistance from Marlene Foshay...Miss Guided Missile candidate, in the removal of a real misguided missile.” One of JPL’s various sports and activities clubs, the Archery Club participated in many group events, including hunting, fishing, archery-golf, and tournament shoots. In the 1950s, the club operated from the JPL Archery Range, located above the Wind Tunnel along the north fence of the Lab, and were known for their fun and wacky slogans, including “You can’t kill a lion with a golf ball!”

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

November 2020

Blood Drives at JPL

P-475D

JPL has been hosting bi-annual blood drives in conjunction with the Red Cross of America since at least 1951. This image, taken during the drive held 13 April 1955, depicts a JPL nurse drawing blood from a JPL donor. The blood donated during these drives was collected into the ‘JPL Blood Bank,’ from which blood was specifically allocated to JPL staffers and their family members in need. Always, but especially now, donating blood is vital for our public health, and as Lab Administrator V.C. Larsen, Jr. said, “’That pint of blood you donate might save a life, and that life might be your own!’” Click here to read this excerpt from the March 1955 Lab-Oratory newspaper. 

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in this photo, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

August 2020

August 2020

Mask Training in 1957
Photograph number P-902B

In November 1957, Scott Aviation Corporation was invited to hold a training session next to the JPL fire station, demonstrating how to use their Scott Breath Air Pak. See more...


Original text from Lab-Oratory, December 1957, page 8

"AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION...you know the pitch. It's old but it never goes out of style. The best way to handle fumes, gas, air pollutants, etc., is not to have them in the first place. See more... 

June 2022

P-131B

The JPL Photo Lab has been an integral part of the Lab throughout its tenure, creating a photographic record of JPL’s storied history. The JPL Photolab dates back to 1941, when it was first established by GALCIT Project No. 1, as JPL was then known. George Emmerson, the first photographer, recorded data during testing of propellants, rockets, and jet-assisted take-off units, and documented other JPL activities and facilities.  Over the years, the Photolab expanded the operation to include both still and moving images, updating their equipment to provide a wider range of services and products.  By the 1970s, millions of images were produced each year for imaging teams, mission Principle Investigators, the press, and Regional Planetary Image Facilities around the world.

Beginning in 1995, a major transformation took place that changed the JPL Photolab from analog (chemically-based) service to a full-service digital photographic imaging facility. Systems used in the capture, reproduction, and distribution of images at JPL were replaced, and the new digital systems have improved response time, reduced facilities requirements for space, eliminated large distribution requirements of hard copy, and eliminated chemical processing. This photo, taken 1952-10-29, depicts an early Photolab staffer with an 8x10 studio camera; many images taken with this camera now belong in the Archives.

Check out the Photolab to see what they’re up to now, or get in touch at photolab@jpl.nasa.gov! CL#-21-5953

January 2022

P-790B

JPL’s long history of participating in local and public health campaigns has included raising money with United Way, hosting regular blood drives, and bringing visiting chest X-rays onsite. And in 1957, JPL continued to contribute to public health causes by providing staffers with voluntary Polio vaccinations. In 1954, Fred Vogel (Transportation Section), became ill with spinal polio, and was confined to an iron lung at Los Angeles County General Hospital.

Because of the prevalence of polio during this time, and how close to home it became, the May 1957 issue of Lab-Oratory reports that “In response to employee requests, JPL [provided] the opportunity for personnel to obtain Salk polio vaccine at $2 a shot. Over 600 [employees] have signed up with Marie Jarvis, Nurse. 370 injections have been made so far. Further shots are awaiting arrival of more vaccine.” This photo, taken 1957-04-04, shows one of those JPLers receiving a polio shot. CL#21-5366

Lab-Oratory article (May 1957): https://bravo-lib.jpl.nasa.gov/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-770038/LabO_1955.pdf (page 58)

October 2021

International Coffee Day
P-706

1 October is International Coffee Day! These images, taken 12 September 1956 and 8 October 1957 respectively, show just how long coffee has been an important part of any JPLer’s morning. Representing JPL’s first ever coffee machine, and a coffee sling at what appears to be a JPL coffee cart, these photos feel as if they were taken in 2021.

Despite that we’re now making our own coffee every morning, we all can’t wait to get back to the JPL’s out of this world coffee cart! Drink a latte, cappuccino, flat white, or macchiato with fellow caffeinated JPLers over webex to celebrate this International Coffee Day! CL#21-0721

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in this photo, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

International Coffee Day
P-884

1 October is International Coffee Day! These images, taken 12 September 1956 and 8 October 1957 respectively, show just how long coffee has been an important part of any JPLer’s morning. Representing JPL’s first ever coffee machine, and a coffee sling at what appears to be a JPL coffee cart, these photos feel as if they were taken in 2021.

Despite that we’re now making our own coffee every morning, we all can’t wait to get back to the JPL’s out of this world coffee cart! Drink a latte, cappuccino, flat white, or macchiato with fellow caffeinated JPLers over webex to celebrate this International Coffee Day! CL#21-0721

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in this photo, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

July 2021

P-337B, 1954

A long-held summer and fall tradition is the JPL Picnic. Picnics were planned by a JPL Picnic Committee and occurred every year for JPL staffers and their families. These images were taken of picnics from 1954 and 1955, showcasing some of the annual activities. Festivities included volleyball, pony rides for the kids, carnival games, demonstrations by various JPL sports clubs, speeches, door prizes, and so much more!

A 1952 issue of Lab-Oratory asks the all-important question: “Where can you get a well-cooked dinner consisting of all the barbecued beef and beans, fresh green salad, hot rolls and butter, coffee or milk, and pie – that you can eat – for only $1.40 per adult of 80 cents per child?” The JPL Picnic is always the answer! CL#21-2706

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in these photos, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

P-339A, 1954

A long-held summer and fall tradition is the JPL Picnic. Picnics were planned by a JPL Picnic Committee and occurred every year for JPL staffers and their families. These images were taken of picnics from 1954 and 1955, showcasing some of the annual activities. Festivities included volleyball, pony rides for the kids, carnival games, demonstrations by various JPL sports clubs, speeches, door prizes, and so much more!

A 1952 issue of Lab-Oratory asks the all-important question: “Where can you get a well-cooked dinner consisting of all the barbecued beef and beans, fresh green salad, hot rolls and butter, coffee or milk, and pie – that you can eat – for only $1.40 per adult of 80 cents per child?” The JPL Picnic is always the answer! CL#21-2706

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in these photos, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

P-340B, 1954

A long-held summer and fall tradition is the JPL Picnic. Picnics were planned by a JPL Picnic Committee and occurred every year for JPL staffers and their families. These images were taken of picnics from 1954 and 1955, showcasing some of the annual activities. Festivities included volleyball, pony rides for the kids, carnival games, demonstrations by various JPL sports clubs, speeches, door prizes, and so much more!

A 1952 issue of Lab-Oratory asks the all-important question: “Where can you get a well-cooked dinner consisting of all the barbecued beef and beans, fresh green salad, hot rolls and butter, coffee or milk, and pie – that you can eat – for only $1.40 per adult of 80 cents per child?” The JPL Picnic is always the answer! CL#21-2706

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in these photos, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

P-517B, 1955

A long-held summer and fall tradition is the JPL Picnic. Picnics were planned by a JPL Picnic Committee and occurred every year for JPL staffers and their families. These images were taken of picnics from 1954 and 1955, showcasing some of the annual activities. Festivities included volleyball, pony rides for the kids, carnival games, demonstrations by various JPL sports clubs, speeches, door prizes, and so much more!

A 1952 issue of Lab-Oratory asks the all-important question: “Where can you get a well-cooked dinner consisting of all the barbecued beef and beans, fresh green salad, hot rolls and butter, coffee or milk, and pie – that you can eat – for only $1.40 per adult of 80 cents per child?” The JPL Picnic is always the answer! CL#21-2706

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in these photos, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

P-530B, 1955

A long-held summer and fall tradition is the JPL Picnic. Picnics were planned by a JPL Picnic Committee and occurred every year for JPL staffers and their families. These images were taken of picnics from 1954 and 1955, showcasing some of the annual activities. Festivities included volleyball, pony rides for the kids, carnival games, demonstrations by various JPL sports clubs, speeches, door prizes, and so much more!

A 1952 issue of Lab-Oratory asks the all-important question: “Where can you get a well-cooked dinner consisting of all the barbecued beef and beans, fresh green salad, hot rolls and butter, coffee or milk, and pie – that you can eat – for only $1.40 per adult of 80 cents per child?” The JPL Picnic is always the answer! CL#21-2706

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in these photos, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

P-531B, 1955

A long-held summer and fall tradition is the JPL Picnic. Picnics were planned by a JPL Picnic Committee and occurred every year for JPL staffers and their families. These images were taken of picnics from 1954 and 1955, showcasing some of the annual activities. Festivities included volleyball, pony rides for the kids, carnival games, demonstrations by various JPL sports clubs, speeches, door prizes, and so much more!

A 1952 issue of Lab-Oratory asks the all-important question: “Where can you get a well-cooked dinner consisting of all the barbecued beef and beans, fresh green salad, hot rolls and butter, coffee or milk, and pie – that you can eat – for only $1.40 per adult of 80 cents per child?” The JPL Picnic is always the answer! CL#21-2706

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in these photos, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

April 2021

P-124B

16 April is National Librarian Day! The library has always been an important part of JPL’s research culture, and has been a significant part of the Lab since at least the 1950s. These photos, taken 27 October 1952, show one of the early iterations of the JPL Library. Because of Dr. Pickering’s insistence on JPL remaining research-driven and university-like, the library was instituted as a hub of learning. According to the January 1953 edition of Lab-Oratory, “The Library is staffed by a Librarian [Betty Mears] and 5 assistants. It is also interesting to note that library circulation has increased in proportion to the growth of JPL. The Library now contains an estimated total of 33,000 volumes, of which about 1400 textbooks. A total of 154 periodicals are subscribed to.”

Now taking form of The HUB in Building 111, the JPL Library is an integral function of the Lab. Though the physical card catalogue is gone, and the stacks look different, the library’s walls still hold all of the informational treasures as it has throughout its tenure, and remains an integral part of JPL culture. As of 2021, the Library is staffed by six information science specialists and three information science technicians. More than 90% of the library materials are digital. The Library now provide access to more than 12,000 electronic journals and 50,000 electronic books. In 2020, more than 330,000 articles and 60,000 book chapters were downloaded.

Be sure to thank your JPL Librarians! CL#21-0732

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in these photos, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

Lab-Oratory article (January 1953): https://bravo-lib.jpl.nasa.gov/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-770036/LabO_1953.pdf (page 7)

January 2021

JPL at the Rose Parade
January 1976

Courtesy of the Tournament of Roses Foundation, this photo depicts the JPL entry to the Rose Parade in January 1976. The float, a tribute titled "The Search for Life," depicted the Viking Orbiter soaring over a full-scale model of the Viking Lander. This portion of the design had a special waiver from the Tournament of Roses to be used on the float, as it was not made of flowers. “The Search for Life” was sponsored by The Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West, and designed in cooperation with NASA. This subject was chosen for the float because the landing of Viking 1 was planned for July 4th of that year, the United States Bicentennial. The Lander would ultimately land on Mars on July 20th, the seventh anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. 

See Lab-Oratory excerpts with your JPL username and password: January 1976 (1) (page 11): https://bravo-lib.jpl.nasa.gov/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-770033/LabO_1976.pdf

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov. CL#20-6316

October 2020

Celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Ulysses launch

P-29790

6 October 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of Ulysses. Formerly known as the International Solar Polar Mission (ISPM), Ulysses was the first mission to study the never-before-examined north and south poles of the Sun. Ulysses was originally scheduled for launch in May 1986 aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on STS-61-F. Due to the unfortunate loss of Challenger, the launch of Ulysses was delayed until 6 October 1990 aboard Discovery on STS-41. These images depict an artist’s rendering of the spacecraft itself departing from Discovery, as well as the Project Ulysses Team, and a few of its members completing work on the craft. This team worked under the guidance of JPL’s first flight project manager, Willis G. Meeks, who sits here with a model of Ulysses.

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in this photo, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

Celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Ulysses launch

P-33934

6 October 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of Ulysses. Formerly known as the International Solar Polar Mission (ISPM), Ulysses was the first mission to study the never-before-examined north and south poles of the Sun. Ulysses was originally scheduled for launch in May 1986 aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on STS-61-F. Due to the unfortunate loss of Challenger, the launch of Ulysses was delayed until 6 October 1990 aboard Discovery on STS-41. These images depict an artist’s rendering of the spacecraft itself departing from Discovery, as well as the Project Ulysses Team, and a few of its members completing work on the craft. This team worked under the guidance of JPL’s first flight project manager, Willis G. Meeks, who sits here with a model of Ulysses.

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in this photo, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

Celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Ulysses launch

P-36417Ac

6 October 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of Ulysses. Formerly known as the International Solar Polar Mission (ISPM), Ulysses was the first mission to study the never-before-examined north and south poles of the Sun. Ulysses was originally scheduled for launch in May 1986 aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on STS-61-F. Due to the unfortunate loss of Challenger, the launch of Ulysses was delayed until 6 October 1990 aboard Discovery on STS-41. These images depict an artist’s rendering of the spacecraft itself departing from Discovery, as well as the Project Ulysses Team, and a few of its members completing work on the craft. This team worked under the guidance of JPL’s first flight project manager, Willis G. Meeks, who sits here with a model of Ulysses.

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in this photo, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

Celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Ulysses launch

P-36862A

6 October 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of Ulysses. Formerly known as the International Solar Polar Mission (ISPM), Ulysses was the first mission to study the never-before-examined north and south poles of the Sun. Ulysses was originally scheduled for launch in May 1986 aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on STS-61-F. Due to the unfortunate loss of Challenger, the launch of Ulysses was delayed until 6 October 1990 aboard Discovery on STS-41. These images depict an artist’s rendering of the spacecraft itself departing from Discovery, as well as the Project Ulysses Team, and a few of its members completing work on the craft. This team worked under the guidance of JPL’s first flight project manager, Willis G. Meeks, who sits here with a model of Ulysses.

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in this photo, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

July 2020

July 2020:

JPL Director Dr. Lew Allan and Deputy Director Dr. Peter Lyman

Photograph number P-32891

In this 1988 photo, JPL Director Dr. Lew Allen (left) and his Deputy Director Dr. Peter Lyman met in JPL’s administration building, where the executive offices are collectively known as “the 9th floor.”  See more...  

July 2020:

Deputy Director Peter Lyman, Portrait

Photograph number P-35400

Dr. Peter T. Lyman in January 1990, several years after he became Deputy Director of JPL. See more...

July 2020:

Deputy Director Peter Lyman in his office

Photograph number P-34960

Deputy Director Dr. Peter T. Lyman in his 9th floor office in JPL’s administration building, shortly after new furniture was delivered in August 1989. See more...

April 2022

P-13198A

Not long after blastoff from Cape Kennedy on 16 April, Apollo 16 astronauts encountered what would be their first of many problems – shreds of paint peeling off the lunar lander. Fears of flawed systems, calling off the landing, inoperative radar, and a gimbal lock warning never stopped the astronauts guiding Apollo 16 to a safe lunar landing, making this the fifth American flag implanted on the Moon.

This photo, taken 1972-06-27, shows Dr. Pickering explaining JPL’s giant Mariner 9 photo-mosaic of Mars to Apollo 16 astronauts (left to right) John W. Young, Thomas K. Mattingly, and Charles M. Duke. This month, we celebrate 50 years of these astronauts’ brave and tumultuous flight.

According to the July/August 1972 edition of Lab-Oratory, “In addition to several JPL science facilities, the visiting astronauts and wives toured deep space navigation areas and the Space Flight Operations Facility [SFOF]. After lunch in the executive patio, the distinguished visitors met and talked with employees on JPL’s central mall.”

CL#22-0027

December 2021

P-48481Bc

Happy 25th Anniversary, Mars Pathfinder! This image, taken on 4 December 1996, shows a Delta II rocket lifting off carrying NASA/JPL's Mars Pathfinder probe at 1:58AM from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida. The Pathfinder was destined to land on Mars’ Ares Vallis on 4 July 1997 and dispatch a small rover, Sojourner, to search for signs of life on the Red Planet. 

Designed as a technology demonstration of a new way to deliver an instrumented lander and the first-ever robotic rover to the surface of Mars (known as the ‘airbag’ technique), Pathfinder returned an unprecedented amount of data and outlived its primary design life. It gave us significant data about Mars’ metallic core, water ice clouds, and abrupt temperature fluctuations. 

Mars Pathfinder’s final transmission was received on 27 September 1997, ultimately returning 2.3 billion bits of information, including more than 16,500 images from the lander and 550 images from the rover, as well as more than 15 chemical analyses of rocks and soil, and extensive data on winds and Martian 

weather. These findings allowed JPL scientists to ascertain that Mars was likely once warm and wet, with water existing in a liquid state and a thicker atmosphere. 

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov. 

September 2021

325-39A

 20 September marks the 55th anniversary of the launch of JPL’s spacecraft, Surveyor II! This lander/rover was destined for the Moon, carrying with it an imaging system intended to bring back an array of lunar photos. This image, taken 6 December 1962, shows the A-21 mock-up of the Surveyor M12 Model 62. 

The craft lost control and crashed into the Moon just southeast of Copernicus crater at 8:18PM on 23 September 1966. Contact with Surveyor II was lost early that morning when there was a failure in the communications or power system during the firing of the 10,000 pound thrust retro engine. Up to the time of loss of contact, there was no evidence of further failure in the spacecraft beyond that of the vernier engine number three to fire upon command. This failure threw Surveyor II into an uncontrolled tumble, with efforts to re-stabilize it failing. The following year, ts successor, Surveyor III, ultimately made a soft landing on the Moon, making further inroads into the preparations for future human lunar missions. 

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov. 

June 2021

P-958

One major piece of JPL that we’ve all been missing during this work from home period is our friendly JPL deer! Though they stop traffic in the parking lot and run across the streets on Lab, the appearance of the deer happily signifies to the Lab that it’s finally springtime. 

The deer have been inhabiting the Lab throughout its history, this photo being taken 9 January 1958. Conversely, 63 years later, we’re still enamored by the deer. This drawing was done 21 January 2021 by Data Visualization Developer, Vaishnavi Yathirajam (398I), another of our fellow JPLers missing this time of year on Lab. 

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov. 

Drawing by Vaishnavi Yathirajam (398I) 

One major piece of JPL that we’ve all been missing during this work from home period is our friendly JPL deer! Though they stop traffic in the parking lot and run across the streets on Lab, the appearance of the deer happily signifies to the Lab that it’s finally springtime. 

The deer have been inhabiting the Lab throughout its history, this photo being taken 9 January 1958. Conversely, 63 years later, we’re still enamored by the deer. This drawing was done 21 January 2021 by Data Visualization Developer, Vaishnavi Yathirajam (398I), another of our fellow JPLers missing this time of year on Lab. 

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov. 

March 2021

293-363

22 March marks the 75th anniversary of the first American rocket to escape Earth’s atmosphere, the JPL-Ordnance WAC! WAC (Without Altitude Control) Corporal, also known as WAC A, reached a 50 mile height after its launch from White Sands Proving Ground (WSPG). This photo, taken 29 October 1945, shows Frank Malina and WAC Corporal Project Coordinator P.J. Meeks standing with the rocket in the launcher at WSPG. WAC Corporal was initially developed as the ‘little sister’ of GALCIT’s Corporal military rocket as part of a series of rockets planned for the Army, including Private, Corporal, and Sergeant. 

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov. 

December 2020

Holidays at JPL
GALCIT Ear 1(3):11 

The holiday season has always been a jolly time at JPL. Starting as early as 1944, we see comical advertisements for the annual GALCIT Christmas Party. This edition of JPL’s first employee periodical, The GALCIT Ear, called for nominations for ‘a bigger and better Santa Claus,’ preferably of those on Lab ‘who bear a marked physical resemblance to the real thing.’ To this day, JPL commemorates the holidays with mementos and spirited cards from the Director.
CL#20-5554

GALCIT EAR 1(3) (December 1944) [Can be viewed with JPL username and password]: https://bravo-lib.jpl.nasa.gov/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-823692/Galcit_Ear-1no3.pdf (page 11)

The JPL Archives wishes you a safe and happy holiday season!

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

September 2020

September 2020

Celebration of the 45th Anniversary of the Viking Orbiter 2 launch

Photograph number P-20122Ac

9 September 2020 marks the 45th anniversary of the launch of Viking Orbiter 2. Launched only twenty days after its identical counterpart, Viking Orbiter 1, VO-2 played a crucial role in our current understanding of the Martian landscape. This photo was taken on 3 March 1978 during a team event, where they celebrated with a cake depicting the spacecraft and Mars. The celebration extended to the entire Lab – in keeping with the Lab’s tradition of commemorating landmark events with pins and other memorabilia, Viking 2 stamps were made available by the JPL Stamp Club.

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in this photo, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.

September 2020

Celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Viking Orbiter 2 launch

9 September 2020 marks the 45th anniversary of the launch of Viking Orbiter 2. Launched only twenty days after its identical counterpart, Viking Orbiter 1, VO-2 played a crucial role in our current understanding of the Martian landscape. This photo was taken on 3 March 1978 during a team event, where they celebrated with a cake depicting the spacecraft and Mars. The celebration extended to the entire Lab – in keeping with the Lab’s tradition of commemorating landmark events with pins and other memorabilia, Viking 2 stamps were made available by the JPL Stamp Club.

We’d love to hear from you! If you can identify anyone in this photo, or for more information about the history of JPL, please contact the JPL Archives at archives@jpl.nasa.gov.