Posts Tagged ‘history’

Slice of History: Plasma Flow Research Lab

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Plasma Flow Research Lab
Plasma Flow Research Lab — Photograph number P-3205B

In February 1964, the Plasma Flow Research Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was completed. It was located in Building 112 by the East Gate in what was once rocket motor test cell B. It included a 7-foot-by-14-foot stainless steel cylindrical vacuum chamber with port holes on the sides to view and photograph the tests. In this photo, Gary Russell, a group supervisor in the Propulsion Research Section, discusses the plasma facility with JPL Director William Pickering, Deputy Director Brian Sparks, Assistant Director for Research and Advanced Development Frank Goddard, and Propulsion Research Section Chief Don Bartz.

Lab-Oratory, the JPL employee newspaper, covered the opening of this new facility, describing how plasma can be generated by bodies entering an atmosphere at high speed and in the plasma lab by electrical discharge. The plasma facility at JPL could create thermally ionized gases at temperatures up to 30,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Findings from the plasma program were to be applied to power and propulsion devices, and Earth re-entry problems (thermal protection, communication blackout and electrical breakdown). This was a $1.6 million JPL task – part of the larger NASA plasma research and development program.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Is It a JPL Magic Trick?

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

magnetic bearing
Is it a JPL magic trick? — Photograph 328-161Ac

In 1960 through 1961, several different experiments were conducted at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., in search of a frictionless bearing for use in space applications, gyroscopes and other machinery. There were cryogenic, gas and electrostatic types of bearings, and the photo above shows a magnetic bearing. It was suspended by counterbalancing the force of gravity and an electromagnet. A servo feedback system continually corrected the current flow through the electromagnet to keep it stable.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Advanced Ocean Technology Development Platform

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Advanced Ocean Technology Development Platform
Advanced Ocean Technology Development Platform — Photograph Number P-23298B

The Advanced Ocean Technology Development Platform (AOTDP) was developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the late 1970s by the Undersea Technology Program Office. The project applied space program instruments and systems to ocean exploration, mapping and resource assessment. This photo was taken in December 1980, after more than two months of engineering tests around Long Beach and Los Angeles harbors. The AOTDP shallow water test team included, from left to right, Sherry Wheelock, Don Hoff, Gary Bruner, Larry Broms, Curtis Tucker, Hal Holway, Garry Paine, Martin Orton and task manager Bill Gulizia.

The submersible vehicle test platform carried digital side-looking sonar for underwater imaging and a tow cable connecting the submersible to its companion surface ship, providing command, telemetry and power links. There was a shipboard control and data acquisition center to process and display the information gathered by the submersible, at rates of up to 250,000 bits per second. It was designed to descend as deep as 20,000 feet, but test tows were conducted at depths of about 600 feet. The project was funded by NASA and tests designed to improve the side-looking sonar instrument were sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Ranger Midcourse Motor

Monday, April 4th, 2011

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we’ll be featuring a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Ranger Midcourse Motor
Ranger Midcourse Motor — Photograph Number 384-5117B

Engineer Ted Metz proudly showed off the Ranger midcourse correction motor in a photo similar to this one that appeared in the May 1965 issue of Lab-Oratory, the JPL employee newsletter. “Since few Lab employees have seen the Ranger and Mariner midcourse propulsion unit, we show here the rocket motor portion of the system held by Propulsion project engineer, Ted Metz. This 50-pound thrust motor utilizes hydrazine fuel and has successfully corrected the trajectories of the Mariner R, Mariner IV and Rangers VI through IX spacecrafts.”

From 1961 to 1965, there were six Ranger flights that failed for various reasons and three very successful ones (Rangers 7, 8, and 9). Mariner R (based on the Ranger spacecraft, also called Mariner 2) had flown by Venus, and Mariner 4 was on the way to Mars.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.