The IMAP Student Collaboration (StC) is a program developed through the University of New Hampshire (UNH), Howard University (HU), and Sonoma State University (SSU) that provides students, including those traditionally underrepresented or underserved in STEM, with hands-on experience designing, building, testing and calibrating scientific instruments, and delivering to NASA for launch at least one CubeSat with at least one student-built instrument. In addition, the IMAP StC provides the students with scientific involvement in the IMAP mission through participation, post-launch in data analysis and pre-launch in selected IMAP team meetings.
The IMAP StC develops a strong recruitment and retention (R&R) program, that takes advantage of the expertise of the participating universities to bring a more diverse cohort of students to space-related STEM degrees. The StC incorporates a strong evaluation component to provide program evaluation on specific goals, in terms of diversity, student R&R, as well as engineering and scientific goals.
2.1 Science and Engineering Objectives
Undergraduate and graduate students at the three partnering universities design, develop, and build at least one small satellite (baselined as a 2U CubeSat), the IMAP Thermospheric CubeSat (ITC) with the science objective to determine how Earth’s polar upper atmosphere (‘the thermosphere’ in the auroral and cusp regions) responds to particle precipitation and varying conditions associated with solar wind forcing and internal magnetospheric processes. Our overall, baseline plan consists of a constellation of three CubeSats (the ITC constellation) with identical instrumentation to determine the spatio-temporal variation in the polar thermosphere. Combining the measurements of the ITC constellation with observations by IMAP and the rest of NASA’s HSO, the StC students determine the relative importance of Joule heating, electron precipitation, direct particle heating and ionospheric outflow in thermospheric upwelling.
2.2 Diversity Objective
The StC diversity objective is to increase the numbers of space scientists who come from groups underrepresented and underserved in STEM through i) recruitment, inclusion, accessibility and retention and ii) through capacity building at the faculty level in three institutions. The three the core institutions of the StC is are: 1- Howard University (HU), a Historically Black College and University (HBCU): HU has been ranked the top producer of African-American undergraduates who later earn STEM graduate degrees. 2- Sonoma State University (SSU), a public Hispanic-serving institution (HSI), part of California State University, with past experience in designing, building, launching and successfully operating student-led CubeSats. 3- the University of New Hampshire (UNH), a public university with over 50 years of space hardware experience, and a strong commitment to undergraduate research.