Science: Singing the Blues at J.P.L

As planetary exploration fades, an Air Force officer takes over

Located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains outside Los Angeles, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2,700 scientists and engineers) is famed throughout the world and perhaps beyond. Since the 1958 launch of Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite, it has sent some 40 spacecraft soaring into the cosmos. The J.P.L.'s sophisticated machines, operating on complex instructions stored in silicon brains, have explored every member of the sun's family of planets, from inner-most Mercury to the remote giant Saturn. Even now a J.P.L. robot is speeding toward Uranus, 1.7 billion miles away,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!