Author spotlight: Tom Farr

Tom Farr joined NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1975 and has helped develop the first geologic applications of imaging radar using aircraft, satellites, and the Space Shuttle. He has taught a class on planetary exploration at Santa Barbara City College for more than 10 years. He currently resides in Montecito.

Our Solar System: Mars
By Tom Farr   |   January 28, 2021

On July 20, 1976, seven years to the day after humans first walked on the moon, a bunch of us new employees of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory trooped over to Caltech’s Beckman auditorium (the one that looks like a circus tent) to see the first landing of a spacecraft on another planet. Viking 1 was […]

Our Solar System: Venus
By Tom Farr   |   January 7, 2021

I was already in the Science Team room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory when the second cycle of radar images of the surface of Venus were beamed down in May of 1991. I waited impatiently for the five-inch print roll to start spooling out. The first cycle had gone well and most of Venus’s surface […]

Our Solar System: Mercury
By Tom Farr   |   December 31, 2020

As a kid I was always picking up rocks and wondering at the diversity of them all. Where did they come from? And family camping trips gave me a sampling of the varied landscapes of California and the West. When I found out I could combine my love of the outdoors with the study of […]

The Electromagnetic Spectrum
By Tom Farr   |   October 13, 2020

Even as a kid growing up in Southern California, I was always wondering: Why do things look the way they do? Why is the sky blue, but grass is green? I got into rock collecting and wondered at the variety of colors and textures – how did they form? As I studied geology in college […]