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Frank B. Estabrook Papers

Identifier: 10238-MS

Scope and Contents

The Frank B. Estabrook Papers are housed in 8 archival boxes (1 half-sized and 7 standard archival boxes). The papers are divided into three series, with one series divided into three subseries. The three series are: 1. Galileo and Gravitational Waves Projects, 2. Correspondence, and 3. Reports and Proposals.

Series 1 Galileo and Gravitational Waves Projects has been divided into 3 subseries. Subseries 1: Project Outlines contains outlines for Galileo planning efforts, ka-band and x-band radio science, and gravitational wave detection outlines, arranged in chronological order. Subseries 2: Meetings contains meeting minutes and schedules, arranged in chronological order. Subseries 3: Miscellaneous includes gravitational waves papers, NASA and JPL promotional material, and news clippings.

Series 2: Correspondence includes correspondence and interoffice memoranda to and from JPL, NASA, Caltech, or Joint Gravitational Wave Experiment group. Also includes letters from international letter writing campaigns.

Series 3: Reports and Proposals includes reports on Deep Space Network system requirements, the Jupiter Orbiter Probe, and also experiment proposals, mission requirements documents, and project plans.


  • 1966-2004


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. Researchers must apply in writing for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright may not have been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Caltech Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and, unless explicitly stated otherwise, is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Biographical / Historical

Frank Behle Estabrook (1922- ) began his academic career at Miami University in Ohio, and earned his BA in Physics and Math in 1943. His interest in the study of gravitational waves began after learning Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity as a Caltech graduate student. He earned both his M.S. and PhD in Physics and Math from Caltech in 1947 and 1950. After completing his PhD, Estabrook returned to his alma mater, Miami University for two years as an assistant professor in physics. In the 1953 he returned to California and worked as a reactor physicist at Atomics International, a division of North American Aviation. In 1956 he worked for the U.S. Army’s Office of Ordnance Research awarding research contracts.

Estabrook began his career at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in 1960, where he first worked half-time on relativity and half-time on reactor physics. He later served as a Caltech lecturer, and taught the course Physics 236, Relativity Theory in 1962-63 and 1964-65. In 1981 he also taught differential geometry as a lecturer in Applied Mathematics.

As a JPL scientist, Estabrook’s areas of research consisted of spectroscopy, neutron transport physics, differential geometry, general relativity and cosmology, and gravitational radiation. One of Estabrook's notable joint projects was JPL/NASA's Galileo spacecraft gravitational waves search experiment(1989-2003) using x-band uplink frequency, but was unsuccessful in detecting gravitational waves. Throughout his career he published more than 90 refereed papers in general relativity, gravitational radiation, and differential geometry. He formally retired in 2006, but continued his work at JPL as Distinguished Visiting Scientist until 2016, and is currently fully retired.

The Frank B. Estabrook Oral History with Shirley K. Cohen can be accessed in the Caltech Archives.


3.1 linear feet (8 boxes)

Language of Materials



Frank B. Estabrook is a Caltech alumus (M.S. 1947, PhD 1950). Estabrook was as physicist at JPL from 1960 to 2006, and Distinguished Visiting Scientist from 2006-2016. He is currently retired. Estabrook's papers consist of project outlines, meeting agendas and minutes, correspondence, and reports related to the Galileo spacecraft and gravitational wave research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Frank B. Estabrook donated his papers to the Caltech Archives in 2007.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in September 2016. All materials were originally in descending order, unfoldered. To assist researchers accessing this collection, the processing archivist grouped like items to create series and subseries and organized the papers in acid-free folders. The papers were arranged in chronogical order.

Finding Aid for the Frank B. Estabrook Papers
Penelope Neder
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the California Institute of Technology Archives and Special Collections Repository

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