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27 March 2001
For Immediate Release

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Receives Governor's Citation for Scientific Achievement

Glendening Salutes Successful Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Mission

The target was a large asteroid nearly 200 million miles from Earth — but for guiding a historic space mission from its Howard County campus and boosting Maryland's reputation for scientific excellence, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) received a citation today from Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

APL managed the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission for NASA and built the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft, the first man-made object to orbit and land on an asteroid. NEAR project scientist and APL staff member Dr. Andrew F. Cheng accepted the citation for the Laboratory during a ceremony at the State House in Annapolis.

Glendening also recognized other scientific achievements with local ties, presenting citations to three Maryland astronauts who recently flew on the space shuttle Atlantis, and members of the Maryland-based partnership to map the human genome.

"Maryland received a lot of attention when one of our sports teams — the Baltimore Ravens — won the Super Bowl," Glendening said. "Sports successes are exciting and fun, but what's most exciting is that issue after issue, Maryland leads the entire world in science, technology and discovery."

NEAR Shoemaker became the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid on Feb. 14, 2000. The car-sized spacecraft gathered 10 times more data during its orbit than originally planned, including more than 160,000 pictures of the rotating space rock, before making an unprecedented landing on 433 Eros Feb. 12, 2001. Information on the NEAR mission, including a gallery of images, is available on the NEAR Web site at

NEAR was the first in NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, scientifically focused space missions. APL also manages two developing Discovery missions: CONTOUR, which will visit at least two comets after a July 2002 launch; and MESSENGER, which after a spring 2004 launch will become the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury.

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 contact:
JHU Applied Physics Laboratory:
Michael Buckley
Laurel, MD 20723
Phone: 240-228-7536