More than 100 Maryland middle school students discovered how and why scientists will take the first-ever 3-D images of the sun using two nearly identical spacecraft when they met with engineers at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) during Space Academy: STEREO Mission on Thursday, Oct. 21. Students from the following schools participated:
- Milton Somers Middle School, LaPlata (Charles County)
- Aberdeen Middle School, Aberdeen (Harford County)
- Magnolia Middle School, Joppa (Harford County)
- Parkland Middle School, Rockville (Montgomery County)
The "Space Academy" series — launched in 2000 by APL, Comcast Cable and the Discovery Channel — takes students behind the scenes of actual space missions and introduces them to engineers and scientists who carry out some of NASA's coolest projects. STEREO Mission focused on the twin Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory, or STEREO, spacecraft now under construction at APL and scheduled for launch in February 2006. The two space-based observatories will provide the first-ever, 3-D "stereo" images of the sun to study powerful solar eruptions called coronal mass ejections — a major source of magnetic disruptions on Earth and a key component of space weather.
The daylong Space Academy: STEREO Mission included a student press conference where they, like reporters in a real NASA press conference, posed questions to a panel of STEREO team members from NASA and APL. Students also participated in lunchtime discussions with scientists and engineers, and hands-on science demonstrations. They toured APL's space facilities where they saw the twin STEREO spacecraft under construction and visited labs where the spacecraft will be tested prior to launch.
A hands-on, minds-on experience designed to inspire both students and teachers, Space Academy is held twice a year at APL in Laurel, Md. Weeks before the event, students learn about a specific mission, its science theme, and space-related careers through classroom activities and videos developed by Discovery Networks and APL.
APL, a division of the Johns Hopkins University, manages several NASA missions and has built and launched 61 spacecraft over the past four decades.
For more information about the STEREO mission, please visit http://stereo.jhuapl.edu. Information about the Space Academy can be found at http://www.spaceacademy.jhuapl.edu.