100 Middle School Students From Howard and Prince George’s Counties Will Visit The Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab for a Realistic Space Experience With the NEAR Shoemaker Solar-Powered Spacecraft

Comcast and Discovery Networks are
giving 100 middle school students from Howard and Prince George’s Counties the
opportunity to study an operational spacecraft as part of Comcast Discovery
Mission 2000 Operation “NEAR.”
The event will take place on Friday, April 14,
2000, at the Applied Physics Laboratory of The Johns Hopkins University from
9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

This unique program will enhance the learning experience of these middle
school students by giving them a tour of an active space project.
They will
also interact with scientists involved in the space project and will have the
opportunity to ask questions and study the solar-powered spacecraft Near Earth
Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR).

Comcast Discovery Mission 2000 is a shared vision of Comcast, Cable in the
Classroom, Discovery Networks and the Maryland State Department of Education.
Students will receive mission packets before they embark on the trip to the
Applied Physics Laboratory, and will use this information as they tour the
facility and interact with scientists.

The program will feature plenty of interaction between the middle school
students and scientists at the Applied Physics Lab.
Students will view a
video about the continuing mission of the NEAR mission followed by a briefing
given by aerospace professionals.
Students will then be allowed to ask
questions in a press conference format to help them better understand the
logistics of space research.

The highlight of the program is the Exploration Stations that students
will tour and examine with space professionals.
The Applied Physics Lab
designated four individuals to lead the exploration through each station and
coordinate the learning activities.
The four Exploration Stations are each
unique and give insight to different aspects of space travel and research.
The stations are as follows: NEAR Shoemaker Mission Operations, Satellite
Communications Facility, Vibration Test Laboratory and Space Environment

“It is imperative that children across America are taught how we explore
and learn about space,” said Lori McFarling, Vice President, Affiliate
Marketing, Discovery Networks, U.S.
“With programs such as NEAR in
conjunction with quality educational programming such as that on the Discovery
Networks, we can truly make this learning process an interactive one,” added

“Comcast is thrilled to bring the far reaches of our galaxy to middle
school students in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan area through Comcast
Discovery Mission 2000,” said Doug McKenzie, Vice President and General
Manager for Comcast’s Prince George’s System.
“The best learning comes from
life experiences.
We hope this venture with the professionals who oversee the
NEAR project will prove to peak the interest of these young minds in the
sciences and space programs,” added McKenzie.

The Applied Physics Laboratory, under a contract with the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), designed and built the NEAR
Shoemaker solar-powered spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral on
February 17, 1996.
NEAR Shoemaker rendezvoused and achieved orbit with Eros
160 million miles from Earth on February 14, 2000.
It will orbit Eros for
approximately one year, gathering data heretofore unknown about asteroids, and
will transmit it back to the NEAR Mission Operations Center.
The information
recovered from this experiment will be invaluable tools to earth scientists.

The Applied Physics Laboratory is located on Johns Hopkins Road, 1/2 mile
west of U.S. Route 29 in Laurel, Md.
Directions to the campus are available
on the APL Web site (www.jhuapl.edu) and the Press Room of the NEAR Web site

Discovery Networks, U.S., a unit of Discovery Communications, Inc., owns
and operates Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery
Health Channel, Discovery People, Discovery Kids Channel, Discovery Science
Channel, Discovery Wings Channel, and Discovery en Espanol.
The unit also
markets and distributes BBC America.

Comcast Cable serves more than 1.5 million customers in Maryland, Delaware
and Virginia.
Comcast, whose Mid-Atlantic Division offices are located in
White Marsh, Maryland, employs more than 3,000 people in Maryland, Delaware
and Virginia.

Headquartered in Philadelphia, Comcast Corporation
is among the world’s leading communication companies.
Providing basic cable,
digital cable and high-speed Internet services, Comcast Cable is the company
to look to first for the communications products and services that connect
people to what’s important in their lives.
The company’s more than 10,000
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