Saturday, February 2, 2013


Allen took us on a tour of JPL yesterday. It was entirely too educational and extremely fascinating. The MSL Curiosity Rover Test Rover and the Mars Yard were the stars of the show.

Donna, Drew, Al, and Curiosity
Drew, Donna, Al, and the Test Curiosity Rover

The thing I found most interesting was the autonav system that enabled the rover to be completely self sufficient while following it's objectives on Mars. It has binocular cameras that allow it to see a three dimensional image of the land in front of it and judge distances in those images. Then it uses that data (along with other data and algorithms I'm sure I'm unaware of) to plan a path through the environment to it's destination.

Al also took us into the DSN (Deep Space Network) building. Seeing the live communications coming from the ancient Voyager Satellites was really cool. We also saw the battle station for when the flight model Curiosity touched down on Mars.

Next Allen took us to one of the labs he worked in to show us his project, Cube Sat. It's quite an impressive project given the size of the team.

After our tour we went out to eat and then headed to the Griffith Observatory to enjoy an outlook of the city.  I still can't get over how big LA is.

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