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Outreach Activities

Plasma Science and Engineering is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses an impressive diversity of topics - from thrusters for spacecraft to imploding pellets for fusion, from fundamental science to industrial technologies. This intellectual diversity is so broad that scientists in one field of plasma physics may not be able to keep abreast of what is happening in another field of plasma physics. At the same time, it is perhaps even more important that the general public, from high school students to senior citizens, have an appreciation of the importance of plasmas to their daily life. (After all, the sun is a plasma (!) and every microchip is made with plasmas.) The MIPSE mission therefore has an important outreach component. One part of that mission is outreach within the discipline wherein scientists in the various fields of plasma science learn from each other about the opportunities, similarities and differences of the sub-fields of plasma science. The other part of the mission is outreach to the general public, high school students and even Federal agencies, to help inform them about the importance of plasmas in our society.

Featured Project: MAISE

MAISE project team

MAISE team members, left to right: Catherine Budd, Veronika Bayer, Katherine Wolff, Kaelan Oldani, Abigail Huff, Kirsten Reid. Not pictured: Nora Shapiro

The Michigan Advanced In-Space propulsion Engineering (MAISE) team is a group of students from the Michigan chapter of the Women in Aeronautics and Astronautics that is developing a mobile outreach platform for the plasma sciences, particularly for electric propulsion. The MAISE team is mentored by PhD candidates Marcel Georgin and Sarah Cusson. With the support of MIPSE, the College of Engineering, and the Plasmadynamics and Electric Propulsion Laboratory (PEPL), the team is building the vacuum facility and the power electronics to generate an exciting display of plasma in a small Hall thruster. This type of rocket uses electric and magnetic fields to accelerate a plasma propellant. Hall thrusters are already used on interplanetary spacecraft. The MAISE team tested their vacuum chamber and are looking forward to an initial test of the full plasma propulsion system in the near future. The ultimate goal of the project is to use this electric propulsion demonstration to promote interest in the plasma sciences from high school to undergraduate levels.