#AstroFriday: Astronaut Ricky Arnold Tackles Your “Water in Space” Questions

Ricky Arnold (Photo by NASA)Ricky Arnold (Photo by NASA) This March, Astronaut Ricky Arnold will return to space, this time for a six-month stint on the International Space Station. A former science teacher, Ricky will be taking part in NASA’s Year of Education on Station initiative, sharing his love of STEM and passion for teaching.

Before beginning his final launch preparations, Ricky agreed to answer eight questions about water and space for Project WET educators. The questions were gathered from Project WET coordinators around the world and range from the practical to the highly theoretical. We’ll be featuring one question per week on our blog and social media until Ricky’s launch. Follow along using the #AstroFriday hashtag to see all the questions and answers!

As part of the Year of Education on Station, NASA has also developed STEM activities related to the station and its role in NASA’s journey to Mars. K-16 teachers can do these activities with their students by checking out NASA’s website. While on the ISS, Ricky will take part in “STEMonstrations”, educational demonstrations highlighting specific topics—including water. Project WET will be working on a lesson plan to complement some of these resources. NASA has established the hashtag #TeacherOnBoard to follow for the latest information about ways educators and students can interact with the International Space Station. 

Here's today's #AstroFriday question and answer:

Ricky on a 2009 mission (Photo by NASA)Ricky on a 2009 mission (Photo by NASA) Project WET: How does being in space change the ways you look at and think about water?

Ricky Arnold: In a spacecraft, water is one of our most precious resources. It is heavy to launch, technologically challenging to purify, and far too valuable to waste. Some of the greatest engineering advances we have made on the International Space Station have been centered on recycling water. We are not at 100 percent yet, but we are getting close. Since Earth is essentially a spacecraft (a tectonically active one), the challenge is the same - as the number of crewmembers continues to grow, so does the demand for potable water.

Finally, water is a remarkable, polar molecule that makes life on Earth possible. We don't really appreciate the polarity of water so much here on Earth because of the impact of gravity on most water we observe. In space, however, we can see water assuming wild shapes and behaving in ways driven almost totally by its polarity.

Q&A in Pictures

How does being in space change the ways you look at and think about water?       See answer in text above


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