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25 November 1996
For Immediate Release

Near Mission and All-Plastic Battery Win
Popular Science "Best of What's New" Awards

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, MD, has won two of 100 nationwide Popular Science magazine 1996 "Best of What's New" awards, presented in New York on Nov. 12.

The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission and all-plastic battery were selected for distinction from thousands of new products, technology developments, and scientific achievements reviewed by the magazine's editors.

NEAR is the first launch in NASA's Discovery Program for small-scale planetary missions, and it will be the first to orbit an asteroid. The spacecraft is on schedule for a January 1999 rendezvous with 433 Eros, a potato-shaped asteroid measuring approximately 24x9x9 miles. NEAR will orbit the asteroid at ranges as close as 10 miles for about a year, obtaining data on the body's physical characteristics, which researchers hope will yield clues on the formation of the solar system.

The all-plastic battery is a joint development of APL and The Johns Hopkins University's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, under sponsorship of the U. S. Air Force Rome Laboratory, New York. Lightweight, non-toxic, and using readily available materials, the battery is made entirely of polymer (plastic) materials and can be molded into almost any shape or size for a variety of military and commercial applications.

Winners of the "Best of What's New" awards are featured on Popular Science's Internet Web site:, and will be highlighted in the magazine's December 1996 issue.

The Applied Physics Laboratory is a not-for-profit laboratory and independent division of The Johns Hopkins University. APL conducts research and development primarily for national security and for nondefense projects of national and global significance. Located midway between Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC, in Laurel, MD, APL employs 2,600 permanent staff.

JHU/APL Media Contact:

For more information, contact APL Public Information Officer Helen Worth; phone: 240-228-5113 or 410-778-5113.