California Science

After finding that the outdoor water fountain had been long decommissioned, the disappointed siblings joined the group of young adults and families. In the shade and by the door of one of the buildings they listened to the tour guide from the California Institute of Technology. Despite the drought-inducing heat, he was quite charismatic.

“Welcome to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory!”

As they passed through the doorway, the group felt as though they had entered a science fiction wonderland. Everything they saw was shown to have some comment or intriguing fact to accompany it.

“This is a rendering of the Titan IIIE-Centaur. It flew on the combustion of liquid hydrogen and oxygen which meant that only water vapor was produced. The reusable spacecraft aided the launch of both Voyager 1 and 2, which are presently the furthest man made objects in outer space…”

The little almost-six-year-old was with her much older brother who was considering going to school at Caltech the next year. She seemed to be getting a bit excited.

“Mr. Stewart!”

“… their instruments are very compact and are specialized to take measurements with extreme precision. The cameras could capture a detailed image of an acorn from a mile away…”

“Mr. Stewart!”

“… the generator of either space-probe runs on energy from a radioactive core. This powers the internal components, experimental apparati, and the communications signals across tens of millions of kilometers across space.”

“Mr. Stewart!”

The guide looked around until he finally picked out the young person from the crowd.

“Yes, uh, do you have a question, ma’am?”

“Your spacecraft is so cool!”

“I’m glad you think so, ma’am. It can do a lot of other cool things, too!”

The girl’s eyes suddenly became even brighter.

“Can it help Daddy water the strawberries?”

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