New York Film Academy students had the rare opportunity to visit the renowned Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Friday, February 13, 2015. JPL is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in Southern California.
NYFA students, admin and faculty were given a personal tour of the facility and got to experience first hand the technology and work that is going into the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and its MIRI (Mid Infrared Instrument) component.
As part of a collaboration with NASA, JPL, and Northrop Grumman, New York Film Academy students have had the opportunity to pitch a series of commercials, PSA’s, and promotional pieces for the development of the JWST, planned for launch in 2018. The JPL visit was part of the students’ research for their film projects.
“It was incredible to be given the opportunity to visit the NASA/JPL facilities,” said BFA Filmmaking student, Mariana Thome. “My project will be definitely enriched with details and insights of space.”
On the tour, JWST and MIRI project scientist Michael Ressler and Project Manager Kalyani Sukhatme, MIRI Cooler Test Facility Lead Engineer Jason Zan, and Cryocooler Delivery Manager Konstantin Penanen, informed students on how MIRI will help make the Webb Telescope a Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST) that will offer unprecedented resolution and sensitivity in its observations. So much, in fact, that the JWST will see deeper into space than any telescope ever has.
Students were allowed to get a hands-on look at the cold room where MIRI flight hardware is tested, as well as the sensor room where all the electronics of the MIRI component are tested and aligned under a series of extreme temperatures that the telescope will experience in flight and operation.
In addition, students were taken to the indoor “Mars-Yard” where rovers and other vehicles are tested before being deployed to the surface of Mars. Perhaps the highlight of the whole trip was a tour of the ground floor of JPL’s Mission Control. Mission Control monitors all of JPL’s current space flight missions which include the Curiosity Rover on Mars, the Cassini-Huygens mission orbiting Saturn, the twin Mars Exploration Rovers – Spirit and Opportunity, the Dawn spacecraft observing dwarf planet Ceres, and many more.
The trip was organized as part of NYFA’s STEAM Education Initiatives by Rajiv Uttamchandani. Mr. Uttamchandani states, “At the New York Film Academy we continually emphasize education based on actual experience, whether it be within the realms of filmmaking or the sciences.”