name is Raina Wessen and I'm a 12-year-old who has been to the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory's Open House at least six times so I'm an expert on all the cool
stuff that happens at the lab on those two days. My mom and dad both work at
JPL so it's really fun to see them at work. This year's Open House will be on
May 20 and 21, that's Saturday and Sunday, right before Memorial Day weekend.
lots of fun stuff for kids to do at JPL and your parents can talk to engineers
and scientists about all the latest missions to outer space.
There is a station where you can pick a temporary tattoo of different planets.
You can put it on your hand or your face, but don't worry it washes off easily.
I really like the tattoos because they're fun and you get to meet lots of
people. I think I get that from my dad's side of the family. My dad is Randii
Wessen; he is a program systems engineer at JPL. He is very funny and tells
jokes. He is a tour guide on some of the buses that can take you around JPL. If
it's hot outside, the tour buses are a great place to be, because the seats are
so comfy? I love them! I normally ride on the bus at least three times. It's
fun because you can get off at different spots and you learn different facts
about the lab.
My mom, Alice Wessen, also works at JPL. She manages Cassini stuff. Cassini is
a spacecraft studying Saturn. It's orbiting around the planet to learn more
about its many moons and the planet itself. Cassini also carried a probe,
called Huygens, which sent back information about Saturnís moon Titan. My mom
makes sure all the coolest images of Saturn and its moons are on display. This
year she will help people in the information booth in case they get lost.
My mom says this year kids can see some really cool new robots. This gigantic
robot, also called a rover, is named Athlete. It will be out in this really big
sand box along with its little robot brother Rocky. You can learn from people
who work with the robots and find out how they will operate during future
missions to space.
There are other places at JPL where you can see amazing exhibits to explore and
learn. You can look at the stars with these really big solar telescopes, and
visit the places where they build spacecraft and test the rovers that are
rolling around on Mars.
You can see movies about space, and you can get rolled over with a 5-pound
mechanical prototype rover. The wheels tickle your belly. Itís a blast
especially the first time you do it. You can do a lot of times but you may have
to wait in line a long time.
In another exhibit, you can pretend to be an astronaut or at least take a
picture and look like one. Or you can take some green paper and put it over
your head or part of your body and it looks like you disappear. The background
is green so that's how it works. And the people who work in JPL's television
studio play this video and it looks like you're flying in space.
I really love the cafeteria at JPL too. It has great pizza and great fries!
It's so much better than our school cafeteria. One year I bought astronaut ice
cream so that was cool.
The shopping is also fun. You can buy lots of cool toys. I have this little
mini robot with little wiggly things and long spindly legs. You twist up part
of its body and it shakes and vibrates all over the place, it's funny when it
falls off the table. The most important part is that it entertains you. My
brother, Ian, bought this glider with propellers. It's this stick with a single
propeller that's kind of like wings on the top and you rub it in your hands and
it flies away. That's a fun toy too.
I'll be at Open House again this year with my friends whose parents also work
at JPL. I hope to see you there. Raina Wessen is in the 6th grade and goes to
school in Pasadena.