Timing, in life, is crucial. We catch the right bus and meet our future spouse. We see an ad at the right moment and score the job. And we raise our mitt fast enough to catch the foul ball from our seat in the nosebleeds.
But timing, in space, is absolutely all, as the crew at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will attest. You have to calculate landings and lift-offs and everything in the middle with 100 percent accuracy.
And JPL has done it again: The Pasadena space institution's annual Open House is on Saturday, Oct. 10 and Sunday, Oct. 11, a weekend that comes hard on the heels of two headline-y happenings: The discovery of flowing water on Mars and the big opening of "The Martian," a fictional blockbuster that pays a visit to the very real, mountain-close, cosmos-loving brain-a-torium.
The short of it? Expect a lot of people to attend the free get-to-know-us open house, which will include "a life-size model of Mars Science Laboratory" and "demonstrations from numerous space missions" and a peek inside the machine shop "where robotic spacecraft parts are built."
Can we get an awwwwesome? Awesome.
It's highly kid-friendly, as you might expect, though anyone with a passion for space and everything that JPL is doing/exploring/trying/achieving above our planet's outer atmosphere is more than invited to swing by and burnish/further their own personal knowledge.
JPL, which is all about knowledge, has this knowledge to share with us: The "longest lines" of the open house tend to be at the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, so if that's top on your list to check out, do it first thing, right away.
There's also an Open House app that'll help you make the most of your trip to Mars -- er, Pasadena. Restrooms and line times and such are listed on the app. (And of course there is an app; this is a place that has raised the computer arts to a stratospheric level.)
Will a lot of the people who attend be fresh off seeing "The Martian" or on their way to an afternoon showing? It has stoked many imaginations, like the book it hails from, but you don't need to imagine the Jet Propulsion Laboratory: It's real and you can go there, no bulky big-helmet spacesuit required.