HomeNews & MediaPress ReleasesPress Release 
October 30, 2001
For Immediate Release

Media Contacts:

Kristi Marren
(Applied Physics Laboratory)
Phone: 240-228-6268

Sandy Steeves
(Nevins & Associates)
Phone: 410-568-8806
E-mail: asteeves@nevinspr.com

Applied Physics Lab Hosts Space Academy

Local Students Explore NASA Atmospheric Misson Preparing for Launch

A group of Maryland middle school students from Prince Georges and Howard counties, studying one of the last frontiers in Earth's atmosphere, is discovering that atmospheric science can be a real blast.

On Nov. 2, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Md., is hosting the Comcast/APL/Discovery Space Academy: Mission TIMED. Sponsored by Comcast Cable, Discovery Networks and APL, the educational program — based on NASA's TIMED (Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere, Energetics and Dynamics) mission — will give students from Kettering (Upper Marlboro) and Harper's Choice (Columbia) middle schools a close-up look at NASA's first Solar Terrestrial Probe preparing to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2001.

The event kicks off at APL's Kossiakoff Auditorium at 9:30 a.m. with a student press conference with APL panelists Sam Yee, TIMED project scientist; Dave Kusnierkiewicz, mission system engineer; and Bill Knopf, mission operations manager. After learning why spacecraft engineers wear funny-looking white outfits called "clean-room suits" during spacecraft construction and testing, students will dine with TIMED scientists and engineers in the Kossiakoff Center, and then put on specially-designed clean-room suits of their own and tour APL's space facilities. APL personnel will escort student groups through a series of "exploration stations" that include the TIMED spacecraft's mission operations center used to control the spacecraft; a satellite communications facility that will be used to communicate with the spacecraft during its 2-year mission; and hands-on science demonstrations.

Students have been studying the TIMED mission and space-related careers through a series of classroom activities and videos developed by Discovery Networks and APL.

APL designed, built and will operate the TIMED spacecraft and lead the project's science effort for NASA during the mission. TIMED — the initial mission in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes Program — will be the first spacecraft to obtain a global picture of this virtually unexplored region of our atmosphere, which begins about 60 miles above Earth's surface. This region is a gateway between Earth's environment and space, and can have a profound impact on satellite technology and communications.

The educational event is open to the media and offers a range of photo, video and interview opportunities. Interested members of the press should contact Kristi Marren for more information. Directions to APL's Kossiakoff Center can be found on APL's Web site (www.jhuapl.edu/newscenter/visitor/direcMap) and from TIMED's online newsroom (www.timed.jhuapl.edu/press2/index.html).


The Applied Physics Laboratory, a division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.

The third largest cable company in the U.S., Comcast Cable is a division of Comcast Corporation — a developer, manager and operator of broadband cable networks and provider of programming content.

Discovery Networks, U.S., a unit of Discovery Communications, Inc., owns and operates Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery Health Channel, Discovery People, Discovery Kids Channel, Discovery Science Channel, Discovery Wings Channel and Discovery en Espanol. The unit also markets and distributes BBC America.

Media Contacts:

Kristi Marren
(Applied Physics Laboratory)
Phone: 240-228-6268
E-mail: kristi.marren@jhuapl.edu

Sandy Steeves
(Nevins & Associates)
Phone: 410-568-8806
E-mail: asteeves@nevinspr.com