Two Hendrix Students Visit Johnson Space Center

Katherine Coughran ’14 of Allen, Texas, and Britton Jones ’13 of Rogers, Ark., recently visited Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, to see how scientific research has been used to further manned spaceflight.

The students were accompanied by Hendrix physics professor and alumnus Dr. Todd Tinsley’98, who met with scientists at Rice University and JSC to discuss potential collaborations in the area of particle astrophysics.

“We were invited to walk down to the floor of the mission control center, tour training mockups of the space shuttle and international space station, and watch astronauts training in the neutral buoyancy laboratory,” said Tinsley.

“We coordinated our visit with Charles Armstrong, a member of the Orion team who is currently serving on a rotation with JSCĀ¹s Office of External Relations, and with Arthur Thomason’97,” he said.

Thomason has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University. He is currently an Extravehicular Activities (EVA) flight controller and instructor. He designs spacewalks, trains the astronauts for the tasks, and troubleshoots any problems that occur while the EVA is underway.

Jones is working with Hendrix physics professor Dr. Bob Dunn this summer on ring laser research. Next year, Jones will enter a dual degree program at Washington University. Coughran is working with Tinsley to explore the production of electron-positron pairs with supernova neutrinos in the limit of large electron and positron Landau levels. The students’ summer research is supported by a grant from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium (ASGC).

“The students and I are very grateful for NASA/ASGC’s financial support, the help Bob Dunn provided in securing the trip, and to Charles and Art for sharing their time and providing such a great experience,” he said.