Students at COC got a telescopic view at future space exploration missions for Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Cook discussed JPL past, present and future joint ventures with NASA and shared his experiences as an engineer at JPL.
When Cook started with JPL it was in navigation and mission design, landing him positions on numerous Mars projects since the late 8o’s. Cook served under different titles during his career for missions Rover, Pathfinder, and Curiosity. He oversees space exploration missions from launch to landing, as Associate Director of Flight Projects and Mission Success.
He chuckled recalling a scene from “The Martian”, saying the Mars Rover vehicle feature was his claim to fame. Cook graduated from the University of Texas where he received his master’s degree by the 25 years old.
Cook warped back to JPLs’ early history and shed some light on how the laboratory burst into the stratosphere and gained government backing. CalTech students started JPL in the 1930’s on campus in Pasadena California where they developed the first rockets. The group of students caused numerous explosions during test firing resulting in the relocation of their lab.
In the 50’s when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik NASA and JPL teamed up to launch Explorer One. Engineers and scientists rushed to get Explorer off the ground to show America was not far behind the Soviets.
Students listened to future search for life missions including, Europa clipper set to launch sometime in the 2020s’. Cook closed by answering questions from the students. Students’ questions ranged from pursuing a career at JPL, current missions specifics and what discoveries are on Cooks’ bucket list.
Kevin Anthony, of the Hotel and Restaurant department at College of the Canyons, arranged the event for the students to get a glimpse of the exciting projects happening at JPL.