School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

UTD Assistant Professor and UTD Research Scientist Create Comic Book

"CINDI in Space" comic book explains the science and purpose of new space mission of the UTD Center for Space Sciences

RICHARDSON, Texas (October 6, 2005) – UTD assistant professor Mary Urquhart and UTD research scientist Marc Hairston created a comic book to help explain the science and purpose of an upcoming NASA Mission of Opportunity underway at the UTD William B. Hanson Center for Space Sciences.

Dr. Marc Hairston and Dr. Mary Urquhart

Dr. Marc Hairston and Dr. Mary Urquhart co-authored the story. Dr. Hairston created the script and final storyboarding for the book. The artwork and layout was created by Erik Levold, a former student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. (Photo used with permission from Mike Stone)

Their comic entitled "Cindi in Space" is the story of an android space girl and her two dogs. The target audience for the comic are students in grades six through nine, but readers of all ages will find it both entertaining and informative.

"Whenever NASA is involved in this type of grant, education and public outreach is mandatory," Dr. Mary Urquhart explained. "From about 1 to 2 percent of the grant, not including the launch costs, is to be spent to educate the public."

The "real" CINDI, is an acronym that stands for "Coupled Ion Neutral Dynamics Investigation" and is a mission of opportunity selected for flight by NASA. It will become part of the payload for the Communication and Navigation Outage Forecast System (C/NOFS). The five-year, $10 million project is jointly sponsored by NASA and the U.S. Air Force. Launch is anticipated in early 2006.

"Everyone seems very excited about the comic book," Dr. Mary Urquhart said.

CINDI seeks to discover how the neutral gas motions and the charged particle motions are related, and will provide measurements of the neutral atmosphere wind velocity and the charged particle drift velocity in the equatorial upper atmosphere at altitudes between 350 km and 700 km. The mission will be ongoing for two years and the data will be accessible through a web-server at UTD.

"I hope [the comic book] increases understanding about the atmosphere and how it is connected to the sun. Space weather can be important to everyday life on the Earth; conditions can disrupt cell phones and such things as GPS," Dr. Mary Urquhart said.

"We hope the Cindi character also has a side benefit – helping to get young girls interested in science," Dr. Marc Hairston said. "We want to keep them interested."

Copies are being distributed to educators and teachers through special workshops and also are available for downloading (PDF) online.

The William B. Hanson Center for Space Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas conducts a vigorous research program in Space Plasma Physics. It is composed of faculty, researchers, and graduate students affiliated with the university's Physics department. The center's goal is to advance the understanding of the evolution of Solar system bodies and their interaction with the Sun.

  • Updated: December 19, 2007