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NASA renews Caltech contract to operate Jet Propulsion Laboratory

August 21, 2012 |  1:49 pm

NASA has renewed Caltech's contract to operate the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the next five years.

The $8.5-billion contract will "ensure that JPL continues to be a national resource for space exploration, scientific leadership, technology and discovery, as well as an inspiration for young scientists and engineers," Jean-Lou Chameau, the university's president, said in a statement released Friday.

JPL was created by a group of Caltech students, led by Frank Malina, in the 1930s after they began conducting rocket tests in the Arroyo Seco. The center was founded in 1943. NASA was formed in 1958 and JPL became the agency's home to planetary science endeavors. 

PHOTOS: Mars rover mission | PANORAMA: 360-degree view from Curiosity

A number of Caltech professors are working on JPL's Mars mission, including lead scientist John Grotzinger.

The news comes as JPL's Mars rover Curiosity begins exploring the planet's surfacing, generates worldwide attention.

Times science writer Amina Khan discussed the ride and other developments involving Curiosity on a Google Plus Hangout on Monday.


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--Tiffany Kelly, Times Community News, and Shelby Grad