Mission Name:
Coupled Ion-Neutral Dynamics Investigation (CINDI) Education and Public Outreach (E/PO)

Project Description:
The Couple Ion-Neutral Dynamics Investigation (CINDI) is a Small Explorer class Mission of Opportunity flying on the equatorial Air Force Communications/Navigation Outage Forecast System satellite (C/NOFS). CINDI is composed of two suites of instruments designed to measure the flows, density, temperature, and composition of the ions and the neutral particles in the Earth’s ionosphere. The CINDI E/PO program includes formal and informal education resources and activities designed to engage the teachers, students, and the general public in understanding the fundamental science behind CINDI and NASA’s broader heliophysics research. Topics include energy and interactions between the Sun and Earth’s ionosphere, the physics and dynamics of the ionosphere, and how space weather within the atmosphere or our planet influences our technologically based society, particularly in terms of satellite-based communications and navigation.

The overall budget for CINDI is rather small compared with other NASA projects. For pre-launch (summer 2001 to summer 2008), our overall budget was $90,000 (~$60,000 direct costs), followed by a two-year primary mission budget of $100,000 post launch (~$66,000 direct), and an extended mission of $50,000 (~$33,000 direct). We had a nearly five-year launch delay during which we were able to support CINDI activities through two E/PO supplements totaling approximately $45k each, on related research grants. Dr. Urquhart and Dr. Hairston served as E/PO co-lead for this mission. Total CINDI related costs to NASA over the past 12 years have been ~$27,500/year. The E/PO effort described here has been made possible through leveraging and partnering of other resources including:

  1. A Master of Arts in Teaching program in Science Education, for which Co-Lead Dr. Urquhart is the physics and space sciences content experts and current department head of Science/Mathematics Education,
  2. Federal flow-through funds from the US Department of Education Math Science Partnerships program providing support for a local long-term professional development program through the state-wide Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science/Mathematics (TRC) teaching professional development network,
  3. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s federal flow through funding for the Math Science Technology Teacher Preparation Academies,
  4. E/PO resources from other members of the NASA Heliophysics community,
  5. Donations of significant time and in-kind resources from faculty and departments within the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).

Lead Institution:
University of Texas at Dallas


  • UTeach Dallas (Facilities, interns, and WiP Summer Camp staffing)
  • Department of Science/Mathematics Education (For CINDI: access to coursework, facilities, and teachers. From CINDI: content and content expertise, access to scientists, teacher materials, and tuition support)

  • UT Dallas Texas Regional Collaborative for Excellence in Science Teaching (content, expertise, and materials from CINDI and access to teachers and Data for CINDI)

  • Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Math Science Technology Teacher Preparation Academy grant (From CINDI: access to content expertise and teacher materials. For CINDI: access to pre-service and in-service teacher participants)
  • Frontiers of Flight Museum (From CINDI: expertise, facilities for camp tours, and participation in Moon Day events. For CINDI: access to museum visitors during Moon Day)
  • Perot Museum of Nature and Science (From CINDI: content expertise and access to CINDI resources for exhibit design)

  • UT Dallas Women in Physics summer camps (From CINDI: financial support, curriculum materials, comic books and activities for campers, access to scientists. For CINDI: Focus groups of middle school and early high school girls and pre-service teachers, outreach to motivated middle and early high school students.)

  • High-Tech High-Heels summer camps and the Dallas area T-STEM Academies (Title I High Schools with a Project Based Learning focus) (curriculum materials, comic books and activities for campers/students, access to scientists. For CINDI: outreach to motivated high school students)
  • Richardson Independent School District (Title I) (From CINDI: expertise, facilities for high school class tours, professional development for teachers. For CINDI: facilities, access to teachers) 

  • Coppell Independent School District (From CINDI: expertise, facilities for high school class tours, professional development for teachers, teacher in residence. For CINDI: access to teachers) 

  • Boon Elementary, Allen Texas (Support for family science nights)

  • Burnet Elementary, Dallas Texas (Title I) (Support for staff professional development and family science nights)

Number of K-12 Teachers, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 226
Number of K-12 Students, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 150