Sunday, May 4, 2008

In The Belly of The Beast

Would they really welcome me if they new my true secret superhero identity?

This weekend my buddy Christian Meoli from Cabaret Voltaire and I went up to the JPL open house in Pasadena. We thought maybe there'd be some interesting little references to various aspects of Dark Mission (maybe a pic of an aritfact on prominent display, the odd Egyptian reference), but alas, we were disappointed. The displays were pretty generic and pure vanilla, but it was still interesting to walk around and see some of the places we'd like to get access to. So near and yet so far...

What is really impressive is the degree of sophistication of the various labs and facilities. JPL is truly a cutting edge research laboratory, boasting facilities that far exceed anything I've seen in over 25 years in aerospace. I'm sure we have our share of cool labs and equipment, but I was very impressed with what I saw. Here's a little photo blog of the day.

Pulling up to the gate: I'm a little apprehensive. What if they make me take a loyalty oath or something to get in?

There were only a few Orion references in the displays that I saw.

This is not a real person. I suppose you could say that about some of the posters on this blog...

There were lots of "actual size" models and mock-ups and wall hangings of various JPL spacecraft.

Christian does a little guerrilla marketing for the "UFO's in Hollywood" panel coming up in two weeks. Wish I'd thought to bring some Dark Mission cover cards to leave lying around!

You know when I saw this sign, this was the place I really wanted to see the inside of...

One of the uber sophisticated labs in the basement of one of the buildings. Wish I had the Reynolds Wrap concession for this place...

The main Mission Control room at JPL. The heart of darkness...

Well, that's basically it. I highly recommend that you go if you ever get the chance. Whitewashed and vanilla all the way, but it's totally cool to see some of this stuff up close.


Anonymous said...

America’s best kept secret

This is a great education as to why the US government and its alphabet agencies (i.e. NASA) are what they are and do what they do.

T'Zairis said...

Speaking of 'things JPL', I just finished reading a work of (ostensibly) sci-fi/fiction by one William K. Hartmann. The book is called 'Mars Underground', and the liner notes say that Hartmann was a participating scientist in many of the Mars missions, including Mars Global Surveyor.

In a nutshell, the story is about the suppression of the discovery of ancient, alien structures/technology on Mars. Here is a pertinent quote from pp. 296-97:

"Towering above them, in the cleared space at the end of the cavern, was a huge, organ-pipe mass of vertical cylinders, with the same greenish, metallic sheen that they had seen outside, but this time, rising vertically.

'The cylinders had different diameters, tiny ones clustered among the big ones. The whole complex had a fractal quality. There were large tubes, smaller tubes touching them, still smaller tubes of shorter or longer length nestled among those. The outer surface was an impenetrable complex of small tubes studded with still smaller tubes. The diameter of the complex was perhaps forty meters. On the left side of the room they could see the only horizontal tube in the room, the same as the one in the pit outside, entering the cavern from the left at eye level and piercing the cluster of tubes in a baroque collar of fittings that gleamed faintly of gold.

"A deep, broad shaft had been excavated around the vertical tubes to a depth of thirty meters. Down, down the tubes plunged, and disappeared into the soil at the bottom of this excavation.

"'We think that all the horizontal tubing was laid on the surface that existed 3.2 billion years ago, and then covered during later centuries by younger sediments.' Lena patted the horizontal tube, as if it were the most normal thing in the world. 'What you see here is the end of the horizontal spiral, where it joins this'-- she looked toward the towering complex-- 'we call it a node. The interesting thing is that the pipes in the node run vertically down with no sign of disturbance, as if they were sunk in carefully bored drill holes or magically pushed directly through the soil. We don't understand that.'"

Copyright on the first edition of the book is 1997.

So... why a story about an alien artifact composed of surface/underground tubes (specifically) on Mars (specifically), written by someone directly involved with Mars Global Surveyor? 'Coincidence' be buggered...