65 N. Catalina Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106-2301
(626) 793-5100
Fax (626)

E-mail: tps@planetary.org

Web: http://planetary.org

Contact: Susan Lendroth

On February 14, 2000, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft
will arrive at its destination, an asteroid called Eros. The Planetary
Society, in cooperation with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics
Laboratory (JHU/APL), will mark this occasion with two special events in
Laurel, Maryland on Thursday, February 10 — the first All-Student Press
Conference at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and a
free evening event for the general public.


The Student Press Conference will encompass both the NEAR mission and the
broader concept of future exploration of the solar system. Panelists will
include Dr. Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society;
Dr. Robert Gold, NEAR Science Payload Manager; Dr. Noam Izenberg, NEAR NIS
Team Member; and Dr. Roald Sagdeev, professor at the University of
Maryland, and the former director of the Institute for Space Research,
Russian Academy of Sciences.

While active participation in the Student Press Conference is limited to
young journalists from area middle schools and high schools, mainstream
journalists are welcome to attend as observers. In other words, only the
students will be permitted ask the panelists questions! However, the media
can arrange interviews with the panelists at the conclusion of the Student
Press Conference.

JHU/APL will host a lunch and a presentation about the laboratory’s work
for the students and their teachers following the press conference.
Several Maryland schools have already registered to attend.


Thursday evening, February 10, The Planetary Society and JHU/APL will host
a free public event entitled “NEAR’s Tryst with Eros” at the JHU/APL
Kossiakoff Conference and Education Center, from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. Speakers
will include Louis Friedman; Tom Coughlin, NEAR Project Manager from
JHU/APL; and a team of NEAR Science and Engineering Leaders.

“NEAR’s Tryst with Eros” will provide an overview of the mission objectives
as well as the reasons why near earth asteroids are such interesting small
bodies to study. What can we learn from Eros in particular and asteroids
in general? What was their role in the formation of the solar system? What
threat might they pose to human civilization in the future? All this and
more will be covered in a presentation that will include slides and video.


The NEAR team has invited Planetary Society members and others to suggest
crater names for Eros, which will later be submitted to the International
Astronomical Union (IAU) for official consideration. Named for the Greek
god of love, Eros will be a fitting Valentine’s Day target for NEAR to
begin courting in a year-long mission in which the spacecraft will image
and study the 33-kilometer-long asteroid. In keeping with the asteroid’s
namesake, the theme for crater names will be love. The craters of Eros can
be named after famous lovers, legendary romantic locales, aspects of love,
and so on. Name submissions — accompanied by a short explanation (50
words maximum) — may be brought to the public event or mailed to The
Planetary Society. Send submissions to Names on Eros, The Planetary
Society, 65 N. Catalina Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106. For more information,
visit the Society’s website at http://planetary.org and click on “Help Name
the Craters of Eros” in the Contest section.

The Student Press Conference will take place Thursday, February 10, 2000 at
10:00 AM, at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, 11100
Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, Maryland. To register, schools must contact
Linda Butler at (443)778-5746 from Baltimore or (240)228-5746 from
Washington. Unless alternate arrangements are made, each school is limited
to sending two student journalists accompanied by one adult mentor.

The public event, “NEAR’s Tryst with Eros,” will be held Thursday, February
10 at 7:00 PM at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
Admission is free and on a first come, first served basis.

For more information on NEAR, visit http://near.jhuapl.edu/index.html.


Contact Susan Lendroth at (626)793-5100 ext. 214 or by e-mail at
tps.sl@planetary.org for more information about the Student Press
Conference, public event or the Society’s Name the Craters contest.

Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society
in 1980 to advance the exploration of the solar system and to continue the
search for extraterrestrial life. Its 100,000 members make it the largest
space interest group in the world.

Linda Wong

The Planetary Society

65 N. Catalina Ave.

Pasadena, CA 91106-2301

Tel: (626) 793-5100 ext. 236

Fax: (626) 793-5528

E-Mail: tps@planetary.org