Don Pettit: American Astronaut & Amateur Astronomer
Check out this incredible episode of Space Junk Podcast as Dustin Gibson from OPT Telescopes and Tony Darnell from Deep Astronomy talk with American astronaut Don Pettit about his missions, space, and what it’s like being an astrophotographer aboard the International Space Station.
About Don Pettit
Don Pettit is a chemical engineer from Silverton, Oregon, who also happens to be an astronaut! As an avid astronomer, he is a veteran of three flights into space: once on the space shuttle Endeavour and two long-duration stays aboard the ISS, where he logged more than six months in orbit.
Don brings his expertise and interest in astronomy to everything he does, including sharing some of his wisdom in this episode.
“Earth is the steward for human beings, not the other way around. And planet Earth is happy to go on with or without humanity, and it’s up to us to figure out as human beings how to interact with planet Earth so that we do not become just one more fossil layer eroded from some cliffside.” (Don Pettit: The Adventures of an American Astronaut & Amateur Astronomer, 2021).
Timestamps for Don Pettit: The Adventures of an American Astronaut & Amateur Astronomer1:28 -Welcoming Don Pettit and amateur astronomers to the episode
2:00 -How Pettit got started as an amateur astronomer4:45 -A day in the life for an astronaut & life back on Earth
5:53 - When Pettit realized he was qualified to be an astronaut & what the journey was like to becoming an astronaut7:25 - How requirements have changed over the years to become an astronaut
10:00 - What the experience of going to space is like from an engineer perspective
10:35 - How going to space affected Pettit’s identity as a human being
13:09 - The perspective on being a human on planet Earth and in the universe
15:55 -Pluto - a planet
16:32 - What Earth’s atmosphere looks like from space
17:58 -Work life in space
19:26 - What kind of amateur astronomy is possible from the space station
24:47 - How to find and see Don Pettit’s work
26:25 - What the field of view is like from Earth’s lower orbit
27:39 - Rare weather phenomenon visible on Earth’s atmosphere from space
28:50 - Capturing STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement)
30:52 - The making of Pettit’s video collection
35:38 - What happens biologically to an astronaut’s body as you spend time in space? What about astrophotography equipment?
39:00 - Don Pettit’s longest stay in space? Current training? Any future missions?
41:50 -What the feeling is like right before going to space and what it is like for his family
43:22 - Don Pettit’s drive to be an astronaut
46:16 - The space frontier - “going where humans were not innately meant to be“
What space object would you try to capture in space? Let us know in the comments below!