NASA Chief Technologist Douglas Terrier, the highest ranking NASA technology official and first NASA chief technologist ever to visit Arkansas, was the featured speaker Jan. 27 when the departments of engineering and physics and chemistry hosted NASA Day at Harding.
In recognition of Dr. Terrier’s visit, Gov. Asa Hutchinson proclaimed Jan. 27 NASA Day in Arkansas. Throughout the day, Terrier held meetings with and made a series of presentations to various groups, including more than 1,000 area elementary, middle, junior and high school students, as well as Harding students and faculty. Along with student meetings about NASA programs, jobs and opportunities, Terrier met with representatives from the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium, which includes 17 four-year universities and colleges throughout Arkansas.
The day’s events included the dedication of a plaque recognizing the NASA research conducted at the University from 1967 to present day. A special exhibit titled “Harding and NASA: Through the Years” also displayed various grant-funded research projects beginning with astronaut physical fitness to prepare for the first moon launch to Harding’s membership in the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium and scientific and technology research that continues today.
A 7 p.m. lecture by Terrier in Benson Auditorium titled “Forward to the Moon: The NASA Artemis Program” ended the day. Terrier discussed NASA’s planned return to the moon, including landing the first American woman on the moon by 2024.
Following NASA Day, a group of students conducting NASA-funded research represented the state of Arkansas in Washington D.C. for the 30th anniversary of the Space Grant Consortium. The Harding University Space Research Team, made up of students Abby Bankhead, Sidney Brandon, Hannah Smith, Parker Pruitt and Elizabeth Reed, and faculty advisors Dr. Dennis Province and Dr. Cindy White, was one of only 25 teams chosen from across the country to represent the consortium.
While in Washington D.C., the team presented their research results to lawmakers, senators and representatives, including six Arkansas congressmen, on Capitol Hill Feb. 25-27. The team’s research focuses on enhancing the current system of wastewater treatment in space with a reactive oxygen species generator that will break down complex molecules and kill microbes using a combination of UV light and titanium dioxide. This process, known as photocatalysis, will help to clean and disinfect the air and water aboard the International Space Station so that it can be recycled.
Since Harding’s involvement with NASA first began in the 1960s, the University has continued to maintain strong ties to America’s space program through scientific and technology research and its membership in the ASGC.