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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University November 1, 2004 | Vol. 34 No. 10
At Applied Physics Lab Space Academy, Local Middle-Schoolers See Sun in 3-D

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 on Oct. 21 with APL engineers during Space Academy: STEREO Mission.

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 most interesting projects.

STEREO Mission focused on the twin Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory 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 event 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 in hands-on science demonstrations. 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. 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.


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