Astronaut Friday: Ricky Arnold

Today we are highlighting an astronaut whose passion for science took him below the sea and out of this world! Meet NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold, who has flown to space twice.

His first mission was aboard STS-119, the 125th shuttle flight. His second trip off-planet was aboard Expedition 55/56 to the International Space Station (ISS).

Astronaut portrait of Ricky Arnold

Arnold was a teacher before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2004. He traveled around the world educating students, often in underprivileged communities, about science and math. He has taught in Morocco, Romania, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

Arnold has logged 209 days in space over the course of his two missions, and has conducted 5 spacewalks totaling just over 32 hours.

Keep reading to learn some fun facts about NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold!

He is a big Orioles fan!

Arnold loves baseball, but he especially loves the Orioles.

So, it was an out-of-this-world experience for both Arnold and the Orioles when they got the chance to chat while he was aboard the ISS!

MLB released the following clip of the experience, showing the team and Arnold meeting via downlink.

Arnold even wore his Orioles Hawaiian shirt for the cosmic conversation!

 

Earlier that year, at the beginning of Arnold’s time on station, he tweeted this post in support of the Orioles on Opening Day. It was in reference to Adam Jones’ home run that secured victory over the Minnesota Twins.

 

Is NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold possibly the biggest Orioles fan? We think so!

Before he traveled to Outer space, he first traveled to Inner space

In June of 2016, Arnold tweeted that he was exploring “Inner” space. He was doing so to prepare himself for his second mission to outer space, one that would place him aboard the ISS.

The cave expedition in Italy was part of an annual space analog mission, known as CAVES (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising). It is organized and put on by the European Space Agency (ESA). The CAVES mission helps astronauts hone their skills and prepare them for challenges they may face while living in space.

 

The 2016 CAVES expedition took 6 astronauts below the surface to spend 6 days in the cave system. A base camp was set up some 800 meters below the surface. The astronauts spent their time mapping out the cave system, studying the biological life in the cave and performing science experiments.

Arnold led the mission and compared the experience to exploring space. According to Popular Science, Arnold shared, “These caves are like unknown frontiers.”

His tweets boasted stunning views of the large cave network in Sardinia and kept followers up to date on the day-to-day tasks of the ‘cavenauts‘.

 

He is passionate about marine science and was once an Oceanographic Technician

From under the sea to high above the Earth in space, this astronaut has seen it all!

Ever since he’s been a child, Arnold was fascinated with exploring other worlds.

He was captivated by the lunar landings, but he was just as enthralled with the underwater adventures of Jacques Cousteau! When Arnold visited his grandparents in Florida, he would go on his own journey of exploration in the ocean, snorkeling to investigate life below the waves.

It was his passion for marine science that led him to some pretty awesome opportunities!

In 1987, he worked at the U.S. Naval Academy as an Oceanographic Technician. Later, he went for an advanced degree in marine science, one that led him to experiences at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Then, he became a science teacher. Arnold traveled around the world to share his love of science, and when he discovered that educators could apply to be a NASA astronaut, he jumped at the chance!

Ricky Arnold underwater near Aquarius undersea laboratory off Florida

As a NASA astronaut, Arnold’s been able to put his passion for marine science to good use.

He has worked on a joint NASA-NOAA mission, known as NEEMO 13 (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Objectives) following his completion of aquanaut training. The mission required Arnold to work and live in and around Aquarius, the world’s only undersea laboratory.

Arnold’s interests listed on his NASA bio include kayaking and fishing.

He was able to combine his early interests of both the ocean and space together in his career as a NASA astronaut!

To learn more about NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold, click here.

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