For the past eight years, faculty and students at Bowie State University in Maryland have managed the solar, anomalous and magnetospheric particle explorer satellite for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The satellite was launched in 1992 to examine cosmic rays emitted by supernovas.
After its initial mission was completed, in 1997 the satellite was placed into extended service to continue collecting additional data. Bowie State has been involved with the project since 1997 and became mission control for the satellite in 2004. NASA has funded the project with fees of about $300,000 annually. Over the years, about 50 Bowie State University students have been involved with managing the satellite project.
Earlier this month, the satellite’s orbit decayed to the point that it fell into earth’s atmosphere and was burned upon reentry. While the destruction of the space vehicle ended the university’s mission in managing the operations of the satellite, students will still be able to learn about space by using archival data.
Bowie State hopes to secure another contract to manage the operations of a NASA or privately owned satellite.