Monday, July 19, 2010

Voyager Mission: Fond Memories

There's been a bit of discussion of the Voyager mission of late, since these space probes are still operational, almost thirty years after launch.  My first full-time job, when I ran out of money and had to drop out of college, was writing Voyager telemetry software at Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena.  I even received this cool certificate in the mail, some years later: a "Group Achievement Award," which simply means that I was part of a big group that did our jobs really well.

I wish I could say that I did my job really well, but I was a not terribly mature 18 year old, and in retrospect, some of the telemetry filtering software I wrote in Univac 1530 assembly language wasn't very good.  Of course, if you knew much about Univac 1530 assembly language, you would wonder if anyone could write it well.

It was a fascinating experience.  I was an amateur astronomer, so working on a space mission was so cool.  I was just a kid (I turned 19 while I was working there), and in retrospect, as neat as the job was, it was about as miserable a time as I think I have ever experienced.  Friday nights, I would buy a pizza at Straw Hat in La Crescenta, drive up to an overlook on the Angeles Crest Higway, and have myself a good cry.

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