When most people think of NASA, they think of the excitement of rockets launching, astronauts in large white space suits, landing on the moon with the infamous, "Houston, we have a problem." Many young children dream of being an astronaut and floating in zero gravity. However while moon suits and solar system explorations are important, so is the moon dust studied by physicists, like LSU Shreveport graduate, Clint Naquin. "Working with NASA was always a pipe dream of mine, just like many other kids," said Naquin, a senior physics student whose dream came true. Naquin was one of only 30 students selected from more than 1,000 applicants to participate in a summer internship program with NASA.
"I wish I had a moon suit," Naquin joked, but as a physics student, the job will probably not call for more than a mask and a pair of gloves. "For the internship, we will work on a specific project called Lunar Dust Negation," he said. The internship was at the Goddard Space Flight Center's Lunar Planetary Space Academy in Greenbelt, Maryland. Naquin says lunar dust negation is basically about moon dust falling onto Earth, causing problems with our electronics, among other things. Naquin did not bring back a moon rock, but close enough. The interns conducted extensive research on lunar dust and how to eliminate it. NASA flew the interns to Death Valley, California to study the lunar dust's affect on sliding rocks.
"We worked 8 to 10 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week," Naquin said of the ten week internship. He said his entire collection of Johnny Cash music got him through the long days. The interns will be staying at the University of Maryland in campus student housing.
At age 28, Naquin is considered a nontraditional college student. In May 2010, he received his second bachelor degree from LSU Shreveport. He received his first degree in Exercise Science in 2005, but "physical therapy didn't seem right," he said. So he went back to school to earn a second degree, this time in Physics. He says LSUS helped him by having top quality instruction and small class sizes allowing more interaction with teachers and by providing research opportunities. Naquin said there isn't as much research going on at LSUS as there is at larger universities, but that didn't stop him. "I took the initiative to get involved with all the research I could," Naquin said.
Looking to the future, Naquin will continue to pursue employment with NASA or with the Department of Energy. However, also on the list is graduate school, his top choice of universities: Texas A & M.