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Project Aria: space systems research, education and public outreach at Washington University

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2 Author(s)
Swartwout, M.A. ; Washington Univ., St. Louis, MO, USA ; Bennett, K.J.

Project Aria began in 1998 as a space projects course in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University, St. Louis. The first mission, Aria-1, was a passive GAS canister payload launched with STS-101 in September 2000; it contained 45 science experiments submitted by local K-12 schools. The success of Aria-1 has led to additional missions under Project Aria, including follow-on Shuttle flights, a student CubeSat project, a Mars rover prototype, research in spacecraft operations, and a high-altitude balloon prototype of a Venus probe. Project Aria is following the lead of other university space systems programs by incrementally developing student expertise and program capabilities. However, programs such as Aria must also meet the challenge of effectively educating students while producing meaningful research results. In addition, Project Aria was chartered to provide educational initiatives for the St. Louis public, and therefore these broader educational needs must also be addressed. The conflict among these three objectives forms a case study for this paper. This paper briefly describes the history of Project Aria and discusses the missions currently in development. Particular attention is paid to the manner in which Aria missions are managed, and also to successes and failures in balancing the needs of research, education, and public outreach. Lessons learned from Aria missions can be applied to other universities seeking to develop project-based programs

Published in:

Aerospace Conference, 2001, IEEE Proceedings.  (Volume:7 )

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