Don Pettit Is About to Become Your New Favorite Astronaut

By Megan Garber

The space station scientist has found the best way imaginable to pass the lonely hours away from earth.

One thing about life on the International Space Station: You end up with a lot of time on your hands. Really, apparently, a lot. And while most of us, should we find ourselves bored, could remedy the situation by going on a walk or catching a movie ... if you live out in space, not so much.

Lucky for us, though, astronaut Don Pettit has found a totally worthwhile way to pass the time not spent berthing space capsules, installing scientific equipment, being a bold explorer into the final frontier, etc. Pettit has been orchestrating space-based science demonstrations, broadcasting them to earth via YouTube in a series he calls Science off the Sphere.

Pettit is clearly incredibly excited about these demonstrations -- and his enthusiasm makes for buoyant viewing, even in zero gravity. A couple weeks ago, the astronaut, chemical engineer, and Eagle Scout took zero-gravitied water droplets and used sound waves to manipulate them. It was beautiful and powerful and weird. Yesterday, though, Pettit outdid himself -- by stripping down to a seemingly self-cut muscle T, taking a vacuum cleaner hose, and using said hose to create a makeshift, spaceborn didgeridoo.

None of that is a typo. 

Don Pettit: scientist, explorer, teacher, musician. Prepare to be charmed.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/05/don-pettit-is-about-to-become-your-new-favorite-astronaut/257953/