From visiting mission control to seeing where space robots are built, the interactive tour lets online users explore the historic space facility from anywhere in the world.
Have you ever wondered where the rovers we send to Mars are built, or where spacecraft that explore the cosmos return their data to Earth? In a typical year, over 30,000 people visit NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in person; now, for the first time ever, you can see the Southern California facility from anywhere in the world on a virtual tour.
In the von Kármán Auditorium and the lab’s Visitor Center Museum, you can learn about JPL’s early years, including its involvement in launching America’s first satellite, Explorer 1, which led to the formation of NASA. You’ll also find full-scale models of some of our most beloved spacecraft, including Voyager, Galileo, and the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity in these rooms.
“Seeing JPL from the inside is an amazing experience, and we hope this virtual tour creates the same sense of wonder,” said Veronica McGregor, manager of JPL’s Digital News and Media Office. “We plan to expand the tour with more locations later this year so people can return over and over.”
The virtual lab tour is a collaboration of the JPL Digital News and Media Office and the Public Services Office, which handles in-person tours and other visitor activities. The tour staff’s expertise, honed from ushering thousands of visitors through the lab each year, was invaluable in creating the dozens of points of interest included in each virtual tour stop. In-person tours at JPL have been suspended since March 2020 due to the pandemic.
A next goal is to create hosted virtual tours for classrooms. “Our staff will now be working virtually with schools and teachers to help them navigate this new online tour of JPL,” said Kim Lievense, manager of the Public Services Office. “As with our in-person tours, specific points of interest were designed with grade-appropriate curriculum in mind.”