Posts Tagged ‘slice of history’

Slice of History: Spin Test

Monday, December 9th, 2013

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/.

Spin Test
Spin Test — Photograph number 355-1272B

In August 1964, this test fixture was used by the Spacecraft Design Section at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., to study spin stabilization of spacecraft - in this case, Rangers 8 and 9 (part of the Ranger Block 3 design). Many spacecraft had used spin stability for attitude control during acceleration or thrust, and it was found that a slower spin provided better stability for the coasting phase. One method of decreasing the spin of a spacecraft, or de-spinning, was the deployment of yo-yo devices. Weights were attached to rigid or stretch cords, then released while the fixture was spinning. The cords would unwind, like the arms of a figure skater extending to slow a spin, and then the cords were released. In this photo, the cables and weights can be seen, attached to the outside of the white circle. The test fixture is surrounded by what appear to be bales of paper and trash to absorb the impact of the weights when they were released from the spinning test fixture.

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: Seasat Sensors

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

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/.

Seasat Sensors
Seasat Sensors — Photograph Number 271-365Acc

The Seasat project was a feasibility demonstration of the use of orbital remote sensing for global observation. It was launched on June 26, 1978 and carried five sensors:

– The Radar Altimeter (ALT) measured wave height at the subsatellite point and the altitude between the spacecraft and the ocean surface. The altitude measurement was precise to within ±10 cm (4 in.). The altitude measurement, when combined with accurate orbit determination information, produced an accurate image of the sea surface topography.

– The Seasat (Fan-Beam) Scatterometer System (SASS) measured sea surface wind speeds and directions at close intervals from which vector wind fields could be derived on a global basis.

– The Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMRR) measured wind speed, sea surface temperature to an accuracy of ±2°C, and atmospheric water vapor and liquid water content.

– The Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) was an imaging radar that provided images of the ocean surface from which could be determined ocean wave patterns, water and land interaction data in coastal regions, and radar imagery of sea and fresh water ice and snow cover.

– The Visual and Infrared Radiometer (VIRR) objective was to provide low-resolution images of visual and infrared radiation emissions from ocean, coastal and atmospheric features in support of the microwave sensors. Clear air temperatures were also measured.

This 1978 illustration was based on a painting, probably by artist Ken Hodges. He created artwork for many different Jet Propulsion Laboratory missions in the 1970s and 1980s, before computer aided animation was used for mission presentations and outreach.

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: Infrared Ear Thermometer

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

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/.

Infrared ear thermometer
Infrared Ear Thermometer — Photograph Number JPL-17459Ac

In 1991, Diatek Corporation of San Diego put a new infrared thermometer - Model 7000 - on the market. Early electronic thermometers had been used by some hospitals and doctors’ offices for several years before that time, but this Diatek model was a pioneering effort to modify space-based infrared sensors for a medical infrared thermometer. The underlying technology was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., for missions including the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, or IRAS. IRAS measured the temperature of stars and planets by reading the infrared radiation emitted from them, while the thermometer almost instantly determined body temperature by measuring the energy emitted from the eardrum - quite an advancement in medical technology. Diatek was part of the JPL Technology Affiliates Program, or TAP, in the late 1980s and received help from JPL personnel in adapting infrared sensor technology to this new product.

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: Granite Oil Slip Table

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

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/.

Granite Oil Slip Table
Granite Oil Slip Table — Photograph Number P-2784Ac

In 1963, spacecraft vibration tests were conducted in the Environmental Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. A slab of granite, coated in oil, provided a smooth and stable base for the magnesium slip plate, test fixture and Ranger 6 spacecraft mounted on it. There were vibration exciters (shakers) on each end, capable of more than 25,000 pounds of force. The horizontal fixture at left was used for low frequency vibration testing, and the equipment was capable of testing along all three spacecraft axes.

During the 1960s, Ranger, Surveyor and Mariner spacecraft were developed, built and tested at JPL. Because of the heavy use, a similar but smaller test fixture was used for vibration tests on spacecraft components and assemblies. Building 144 still contains test facilities, but this equipment was removed and the room now contains an acoustic chamber.

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: 1944 Map of JPL

Thursday, November 1st, 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/.

1944 Map of JPL1944 Map of JPL — Photograph Number HC 3-1294

On October 31, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., celebrated its 76th anniversary. It began with a few individuals working on the Caltech campus and testing rocket motors in the Arroyo Seco. By the time this 1944 map of “The Project” was created, JPL was supported by Army Air Corps contracts and the site included more than 50 offices, labs and test facilities.

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: Remote Controlled Manipulators

Tuesday, July 10th, 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/.

Remote Controlled Manipulators
Remote Controlled Manipulators — Photograph Number 381-4778B

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s 1971 Annual Report featured this photo of a remote controlled system for handling solid propellants. A 1965 Space Programs Summary report indicated that the equipment had been ordered and would be installed in building 197 within a few months. This equipment made it possible to safely mix and load high energy solid propellants into small motors. Building 197 is still known as the Solid Propellant Engineering Laboratory.

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: Scanning Electron Microscope

Thursday, May 10th, 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/.

Scanning Electron Microscope
Scanning Electron Microscope — Photograph Number 354-1043B

In late 1967, this Stereoscan Mark VI scanning electron microscope (SEM) was delivered to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory by the Cambridge Instrument Company. They were in high demand at the time, and JPL had to wait nearly a year between placing the order and delivery. It was used by the Electronic Parts Engineering Section Failure Analysis Laboratory to examine microcircuits for defects. Other possible uses were for the study of metals and other materials, and to examine spores for the Capsule Sterilization Program. It used an electron beam to scan the specimen rather than visible light, at a magnification of 20X to 50,000X. The camera on the front right side could be used to record the images.

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: Vice President Lyndon Johnson Visits JPL

Monday, February 27th, 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/.

Vice President Lyndon Johnson Visits JPL
Vice President Lyndon Johnson Visits JPL — Photograph Number P-1723A

On October 4, 1961, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson visited NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. In his role as chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, he toured the Lab and heard presentations about JPL’s lunar programs (Ranger and Surveyor), planetary program, the Deep Space Network and future plans. President John F. Kennedy had made his presentation to Congress several months earlier about putting a man on the moon before the decade ended. During the 1960s, JPL’s role shifted somewhat from lunar and planetary exploration to support of and preparation for manned missions to the moon and planets.

This photo shows Johnson walking out of the cafeteria (then located in Building 114) with JPL Director William Pickering while employees gathered around.

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: Surveyor 3 Camera Returned from the Moon

Tuesday, January 24th, 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/.

ASurveyor 3 Camera Returned from the Moon
Surveyor 3 Camera Returned from the Moon — Photograph Number P-10709B

In November 1969 Apollo 12 astronauts Alan Bean and Pete Conrad landed on the moon less than 600 feet from NASA’s Surveyor 3 spacecraft, which had been there since April 1967. They removed the camera, some cable and tubing, and the trenching scoop from the lander and brought them back to Earth so that the effects of prolonged lunar exposure could be studied by Hughes Aircraft Company (the spacecraft prime contractor) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Surveyor 3 camera was kept under quarantine and studied for several weeks at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Houston. Then it was shipped to the Hughes facility in Culver City, Calif. This photo was taken in January 1970, probably at the Hughes facility, where Hughes and JPL employees photographed, disassembled and studied the camera in detail.

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: Freeway Tunnel Simulator

Thursday, October 6th, 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/.

Freeway tunnel simulator
Freeway Tunnel Simulator — Photograph Number P-20673A

In October 1978, this photo was taken of a freeway tunnel simulator, which was used to study the air quality in freeways that were partly covered by buildings, streets or parks in an urban area. The Highway Intermittent Tunnel Simulator (HITS) project was carried out at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory under a contract with the Federal Highway Administration, Department of Transportation. A series of reports from this project were written to assist highway planning and design.

The simulator used electric motors to power two adjustable speed belts traveling in opposite directions, with 75 scale model automobiles attached. They could travel at about 40 “mph” (to scale) along a 110-foot straightaway. A gas was introduced into the tunnels to simulate exhaust fumes. Concentration and dispersion of the gas were measured as the automobiles moved through the tunnels. Test parameters such as distance between openings, type of traffic dividers and traffic speed were varied to see how they affected the air flow patterns.

At left is Bain Dayman, the HITS project manager. At right are Howard Jongedyk, FHA contract manager; Curtis Tucker, facility design engineer; and Robert Baxter, a contractor with AeroVironment, Inc., Pasadena. Most of the people working on this project were part of the Civil Systems Engineering Section at JPL.

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: Cookie Cutter Missile Propellant

Wednesday, September 7th, 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/.

Cookie Cutter Missile Propellant
Cookie Cutter Missile Propellant — Photograph Number 381-490

The ORDCIT Project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was a research and development program about long-range jet propelled missiles. Under a contract with the Army’s Ordnance Department, a series of solid propellants were developed and tested. This photo shows a neoprene based formula referred to as ORDCIT 29, created in 1945.

Ingredients were mixed and formed into a sheet using a small roller mill. The uncured sheet was laid on a table and cut into disks, using a tool that looked like a large cookie cutter. The disks were stacked and wrapped in a neoprene liner. This cylinder was then placed in a mold and compressed. The locked mold was placed in an oven at high temperatures to vulcanize the charge and fuse the propellant and liner into one solid piece.

Twenty-one of these restricted-burning solid propellant cartridges were tested at various temperatures and various chamber pressures. The results were promising, and Progress Report No. 4-25 recommended more extensive testing.

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: IBM 360 Computer System

Monday, August 8th, 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/.

IBM 360 Computer System
IBM 360 Computer System — Photograph Number P-24197A

The IBM 360 Model 75 computer system was used for more than 10 years in the Space Flight Operations Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It was used in tracking, telemetry, command, monitoring and Deep Space Network operations control for NASA’s Mariner, Viking and Voyager missions. There were two identical computers that could run independently or together, and connected to them were three line printers, two typewriters, a punch card reader and 32 cathode-ray tube (CRT) displays. The system’s main memory had a 1 MB capacity and two disks provided 460 MB of additional storage (less than a standard CD). There were also eight attached magnetic tape units, using seven- and nine-track tapes. From left to right, Ron Sharp, Warren Starr, Larry Hughes, Al Balin, and Dr. George Anderson look on as Jackie Jaramillo shuts down the system for the last time in September 1981, when it was replaced with a newer system. Most of the people shown here were part of JPL’s Communications and Computing Network Services Section.

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: Low Speed Wind Tunnel

Monday, July 11th, 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/.

Low Speed Wind Tunnel
Low Speed Wind Tunnel — Photograph Number 383-6109Bc

In December 1974, this photo was taken of the Low Speed Wind Tunnel. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory had 21-, 20-, and 12-inch wind tunnels that were very well documented, but an April 1967 report about JPL wind tunnels does not mention this facility and very little is known about it. It appears in 1961 drawings of building 80, which was next door to the main wind tunnel building but it may have been relocated years later. The March 1968 JPL telephone book indicates that there was a Low Density Wind Tunnel in building 183, room 601, belonging to the Fluid Physics Section. The section number prefix for this image indicates that it was photographed for the Research and Advanced Concepts Section, but the photo was taken at the request of Paul Massier of the Structures and Dynamics Section. Massier was seen in the June “Slice of History” blog taken in the anechoic chamber.

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: Anechoic Chamber

Wednesday, June 8th, 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/.

Anechoic Chamber
Anechoic Chamber — Photograph Number 383-5765Ac

This aerodynamic noise facility, also called an anechoic chamber, was used to study the noise generating mechanisms in supersonic and subsonic jets in the early 1970s. It was housed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in building 57 (which no longer exists) located next door to the wind tunnel that was in building 79 at the time. The large round opening in the wall is an exhaust silencer inlet. Standing next to it is Paul Massier, co-author of a technical report about this chamber. On the right is a support structure for microphones. Fiberglass wedge blocks cover the ceiling and walls, which were mostly reinforced concrete. Spaces were left open to allow for observation windows and instruments to record test data. There were also openings in the walls that allowed air to flow into the chamber to replace the air forced out during tests.

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: Low Temperature Propellant Tests

Monday, May 16th, 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/.

liquid propellant jet
Low Temperature Propellant Tests — Photograph Number 6-8

It was 1943 and JPL was at the beginning stages of rocket motor research and development.  Over the next decades, JPL would design and test rocket motors with a variety of sizes and propellants.  This small (50 pound thrust) liquid propellant jet unit was immersed in a bath of ice and salt in order to test the ignition properties of the propellants at temperatures near 0°F. 

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