The university has been in charge of JPL -- both are located in Pasadena, Calif. -- since 1958, when NASA took over control of the facility from the military.
"We are very pleased to be continuing our partnership with NASA," Caltech President Jean-Lou Chameau said in a statement announcing the new $8.5 billion contract. "Through this sustained collaboration, we 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."
JPL is NASA's main facility in charge of unmanned planetary exploration, and is managing NASA's Mars Exploration Program, including the Curiosity rover than landed on the Red Planet Aug. 5, SPACE.com reported.
JPl and Cal Tech have a long relationship with each other. JPL Director Charles Elachi is also a vice president of the university, and the Mars rover Curiosity's lead scientist, John Grotzinger, is on the Caltech faculty.
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