NASA’s low-tech secret to a successful mission: peanuts

During last week’s Mars rover landing, NASA relied on rapidly advancing technology, with the exception of one low-tech mainstay: peanuts. Peanuts made their first appearance at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in 1964 during the Ranger 7 launch. “I thought passing out peanuts might take some of the edge off the anxiety in the mission operations room,” Dick Wallace, mission trajectory engineer on the Ranger team, recalled. “The rest is history.” After Ranger 7’s success, peanuts in the control room became nearly ubiquitous during launches, and though scientists are loath to admit the salty snack is actually lucky, history speaks for itself. Without peanuts on-site, missions have been delayed or gone awry, only to succeed after nut supplies were secured. 

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