The Inquisitive Astronaut

Don Pettit turns his curiosity—and his camera—loose on board the International Space Station.

Don Pettit inside the International Space Station's cupola, all set up for a photo session. (NASA)

When astronaut Don Pettit started blogging for us last December, just before launching to orbit for his second tour on the International Space Station, he included this bio note: “I am an engineer by schooling, a scientist by profession, and an explorer by heart. I train to fly in space, and on occasion, find myself in orbit.”

From somebody else, that might sound inflated. But not from Pettit. Whether in space or on Earth, he shows a restless curiosity and a need to see things from different perspectives. One day he’ll try out a new camera setting to capture dazzling views of auroras. The next day he’ll be playing around with droplets of water in zero-G. No wonder he’s so well suited to living on humanity’s farthest and strangest frontier.

See the gallery above for some of Pettit’s more inventive photos, and follow his adventures at his blog, “Letters to Earth.”

June 29 Update: Don and his crewmates André Kuipers and Oleg Kononenko are scheduled to undock their Soyuz spacecraft from the space station at 12:48 a.m. EDT Sunday, and land in Kazakhstan at 3:14 a.m.

Pictured above: Pettit in one of his favorite settings, the International Space Station's cupola. 


Self-portrait, reflected in the visor of the Robonaut 2 humanoid robot on board the space station.

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