Maranatha High School Science Club Leaders Explore JPL Campus

On Tuesday, March 14, Maranatha’s Science Bowl student leaders embarked on an exclusive day trip to JPL with MHS science faculty member Girma Aleme, and myself, a senior member of the Engineering staff at JPL and parent volunteer.

In the JPL exhibition hall we saw Explorer 1, which is the first satellite of the United States and it eventually won the space race. We also observed the Voyager. The Voyager is the furthest spacecraft ever launched into space and the only man-made object that has traveled out of our solar system.

Two other technical objects that really impressed our students were the record/memory unit of Galileo, which is a spacecraft used to study Jupiter and its moons, and aerogel, the lightest solid on the planet comprised of 99.8% of air. Galileo was launched in 1989 and its memory unit has a record 116mb capacity and is about the size of a microwave. In regards to aerogel, one block of it as large as a human body may weigh less than one pound, but it can support a car weighing 1,000 pounds!

During their visit, the students also visited the JPL Space Flight Operations Facility, in which many JPL scientists, engineers, and operators are monitoring and controlling about 20 spacecrafts in same time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our last stop was the Spacecraft Assembly Facility (SAF). Most spacecrafts have been assembled and tested in SAF and we got to see some of those items waiting for testing during the visit.

All in all, the tour was excellent! Our students saw tons of spacecraft models and learned a lot of information in regards to general science, JPL and its history, and really just science as it applies to our world.

Science Club student leader Andrew Huang ‘17 said, “The JPL Tour was awe-inspiring and extremely riveting. Having put much effort and hard work in as a science club leader, I was so thankful to Dr. Huang and Maranatha High School for offering us a glimpse into the intricacies of what goes on at JPL. We got to witness many exhilarating things and get a personal look into what a scientific career looks like, as well as scientific achievements reached by NASA, highlighting key discoveries, and appreciating milestones of our nation’s space exploration program. This was a very special experience for us.”

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