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October 7, 2003
For Immediate Release

Media Contact
Michael Buckley
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab
Laurel, MD 20723
Phone: 240-228-7536 or 443-778-7536

Maryland Students to Get an Inside Look at NASA's First Mercury Orbiter

More than 100 Maryland middle school students will get a close-up look at the first satellite designed to orbit the planet Mercury when they visit The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) for Space Academy: MESSENGER Mission on Friday, Oct. 10, starting at 9:30 a.m.

The "Space Academy" series takes students behind the scenes of actual space missions and introduces them to engineers and scientists who conduct some of NASA's coolest projects. MESSENGER Mission focuses on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft - or MESSENGER - now under construction at APL and scheduled for launch next May. After a 5-year trip through the inner solar system, MESSENGER will orbit Mercury for a year, snapping pictures and yielding new information about the innermost planet.

Media are invited to attend the event, which includes a student press conference with space scientists and a tour of the Applied Physics Lab's spacecraft design and testing facilities. APL, a division of The Johns Hopkins University, manages several NASA missions and has built and launched 60 spacecraft over the past four decades. The Space Academy Series is sponsored by APL, Comcast Cable and the Discovery Networks.

What: Space Academy: MESSENGER Mission

Who: Space scientists and engineers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and students from three Maryland schools:

  • Sligo Middle School, Silver Spring (Montgomery County)
  • Gwynn Park Middle School, Brandywine (Prince George's County)
  • Northern Middle School, Owings (Calvert County

When: Friday, October 10, 2003, 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. (EDT)

Where: The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, Maryland (Directions)

For more information or to attend the event, please contact:
Michael Buckley
240-228-7536 or 443-778-7536

Media can also register online at the Space Academy Web site. For information on MESSENGER, visit

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