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  • From the Sun to Pluto: Inspiring the Next Generation of Explorers

    Paper number



    Ms. Kerri Beisser, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, United States




    The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory’s (APL) Space Department’s Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) Office strives to excite and inspire the next generation of space explorers by creating hands-on, mind on learning experiences. From the Sun to Pluto, APL is engineering the future of space exploration – exploring Earth’s near-space environment, the Sun, planetary bodies, and the outer solar system. The E/PO office provides unique opportunities for students, educators, museums, science centers and the general public to share in the excitement of APL’s current missions for NASA.

    The E/PO office offers a unique glimpse into the Space Department’s “end-to-end” approach to mission design and execution. APL designs, manages, fabricates, integrates, tests, and operates interplanetary space and Earth science missions and instruments. The Space Department is also charged with the scientific challenge of capturing mission and instrument data and analyzing its content to create new scientific findings. Since 1959, APL engineers and scientists have designed, built, and launched 61 spacecraft and over 150 instruments.

    Current, exciting activities in the Space Department include the following initiatives:

    • New Horizons - the first mission to Pluto-Charon and the Kuiper Belt - sent out to explore the mysterious worlds at the edge of our solar system. http://pluto.jhuapl.edu
    • TIMED - providing an opportunity for students of all ages to explore one of the last frontiers in Earth’s atmosphere. http://www.timed.jhuapl.edu
    • STEREO - provides a new perspective on solar eruptions by imaging coronal mass ejections and background events from two nearly identical observatories simultaneously. http://stereo.jhuapl.edu
    • The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) instrument joins NASA’s set of high-tech detectives seeking traces of past water on the Martian surface. http://crism.jhuapl.edu
    • MESSENGER - set to become the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury. http://messenger.jhuapl.edu
    • NEAR - the first mission to orbit and land on an asteroid. http://near.jhuapl.edu
    • The “Space Academy” series – takes students behind the scenes of actual space missions and introduces them to engineers and scientists working on some of NASA’s most exciting projects. http://www.spaceacademy.jhuapl.edu

    The Space Department E/PO program strives to use the mission and instrument science and engineering to enhance the nation’s formal education system and contribute to the public understanding of science, mathematics, and technology. The E/PO team strives to make space exploration an adventure for students of all ages and has a continued commitment to develop new opportunities to carry the message – “We are all explorers”.

    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-08.E1.5.8.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.