Press Release   Home  >   News & Publications  > Press Releases

2 March 2001
For Immediate Release

JHU/APL Hosts Media Event

Reporters Invited to Go Behind the Scenes of a Mission to Explore One of the Last Frontiers in Earth's Atmosphere

Media representatives are invited to take a behind-the-scenes look at a spacecraft that will study one of the last frontiers in Earth's atmosphere. The TIMED (Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere, Energetics and Dynamics) mission will explore an area located some 60 miles above the Earth known as the Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere/Ionosphere, or MLTI. This region is a gateway between the Earth's environment and space, where a significant portion of the sun's energy is first deposited and absorbed into Earth's atmosphere.

On March 7, from 9 — 11 a.m., reporters can get a final close-up look at the TIMED spacecraft while mission team members prepare it and its instruments for shipment to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., where it will be launched later this summer. Reporters will view the activities from a control room that looks into a clean room, which houses the spacecraft. Due to space limitations, media slots are on a first-come, first-served basis and registration is required.

The event will be held at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., where the TIMED spacecraft was designed and built. Starting at 9 a.m., in APL's Environmental Test Facility (Building 23), key TIMED representatives from NASA and APL will discuss the mission, its primary science objectives, its role in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes Program, and the steps required to safely ship a spacecraft across the country to its launch site. Representing the mission will be: TIMED Program Executive Victoria Elsbernd (NASA HQ); Project Manager David Grant (APL); Project Scientist Sam Yee (APL); Mission System Engineer David Kusnierkiewicz (APL); and Spacecraft Integration and Test Engineer Stanley Kozuch (APL).

The 2-year TIMED mission will study the influences of the sun and humans on the MLTI — the least explored and understood portion of Earth's atmosphere. TIMED will focus on a portion of this atmospheric region located approximately 40-110 miles (60-180 kilometers) above the surface, and will study how energy is transferred into and out of this area, as well as the MLTI's basic structure.

This mission will be the first to conduct a global study of the MLTI and will establish a baseline against which future studies of changes within this area can be compared and analyzed. "We will gain a better understanding of this region's structure and how it varies," says APL's Sam Yee, TIMED project scientist. "This information will help the space community predict its effects on communications, satellite tracking, spacecraft lifetimes and on spacecraft reentering Earth's atmosphere."

TIMED is the initial mission in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes Program, part of NASA's initiative to lower mission costs and provide more frequent access to space for systematic study of the sun-Earth system.

The TIMED mission is sponsored by NASA's Office of Space Science in Washington, D.C., and is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is responsible for the design, construction, integration and testing of the spacecraft, and will maintain its operations after the spacecraft's launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in summer 2001.

Members of the press interested in attending the event should register online at Please arrive at APL's Building 23 by 8:45 a.m. for check in. Directions can be found on the mission Web site's registration page. For more information about the TIMED mission, visit

The Applied Physics Laboratory is a not-for-profit laboratory and division of The Johns Hopkins University. APL conducts research and development primarily for national security and for nondefense projects of national and global significance.

Media Contacts:

Kristi Marren
Laurel, MD 20723
Phone: 240-228-6268

Susan Hendrix
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771
Phone: 301-286-7745