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Skydiver Felix Baumgartner hit Mach 1.24, or 833.9 miles per hour (mph), and became the first person to reach supersonic speed without traveling in a jet or a spacecraft after hopping out of a capsule that had reached an altitude of 128,100 feet above the Earth.
"When I was standing there on the top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data," he said after the jump. "The only thing you want is to come back alive."
Keep all this in mind as we study velocity, acceleration, and terminal velocity!
It takes a wide range of skills, knowledge, and experience to explore planets, study galaxies and monitor Earth from space. Here are just a few examples of JPL scientists and engineers.
• Planetary geologists study the terrain of other planets through images and science instruments. They also study rocks and terrain here on Earth.
• Vulcanologists study volcanoes on Earth, other planets, and moons. Jupiter's moon Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system.
• Software engineers program computers so spacecraft will follow instructions from Earth.
• Mechanical engineers think about how the spacecraft and instruments will work as a whole system and they help build them with that in mind.
Careers at NASA and JPL, however, are not only for scientists and engineers.
• Business people help plan and pay for projects.
• Animators, writers, and Web developers illustrate and explain what the missions do.
• Educators teach science and math ideas and activities to teachers and students.
The jobs are as creative as the mission of space exploration.
Curiosity on Mars
This image from the front Hazcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the rover's drill in place during a test of whether rock is beneath it. Subsequent analysis showed the rock budged during the test.