Governor Inslee chats with Richland’s astronaut on the space station


The view from the dome of the International Space Station shows just how fragile Earth’s atmosphere is, astronaut Kayla Barron said.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee hosted a conversation from space with the astronaut who lists Richland as his hometown on Tuesday, and the two linked over their interests in fighting climate change, science and cheering on college students.

Barron arrived at the space station on November 12 for his first NASA space mission and is expected to stay until April.

She made the state proud, Inslee said, both with her career as an astronaut and in her navy career, where she served on the submarine USS Maine in the first class of women appointed as a sub officer. -marine.

She saw incredible views from the submarine in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, she told the governor.

While standing guard at night, she saw more stars than ever before as the ocean glowed with bioluminescence, she said.

But she must have rated the view from the space station as even better.

Seeing Earth from space was one of the experiences she was most eagerly awaiting, she said ahead of the launch to the space station.

In July, she was in Washington state and climbed a cliff by Lake Roosevelt. “Earth is the best planet,” she recalls thinking to herself.

But the view of Earth from space has shown just how fragile its atmosphere is, she said.

“Looking out the window you would be amazed at how thin our atmosphere is,” she said.

At night, there is an orange glow as the edge of the atmosphere which looks “just like thin paper”.

“I think we have to be really conscientious as a human race to affect this future for the generations that will follow us,” she said.

Inslee said he would quote her as he works for legislation to reduce carbon pollution in the coming year.

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Richland astronaut Kayla Barron spoke from the International Space Station with Washington Governor Jay Inslee on December 21, discussing research, STEM education and climate change. Courtesy of NASA TV

How to become an astronaut

Barron said she studied nuclear engineering in graduate school because of her interest in climate change and her understanding of solutions for the country’s energy future.

At Inslee’s request, she offered some advice to students in Washington who might want to follow her into space.

“The most important thing you can do is find things that you are passionate about,” Barron said. “… You will be amazed at where they will take you.” “

Barron said her upbringing in the Tri-Cities from grade seven to graduation at Richland High was marked by teachers, mentors and coaches – including her mother Laurie Sax, who coached her in high school and cross country athletics – which provided a solid foundation for her as an astronaut.

But she never thought of being an astronaut then.

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NASA Astronaut Kayla Barron received her pin as a NASA Astronaut who flew into space from Astronaut Tom Marshburn shortly after boarding the International Space Station. Courtesy of NASA TV

The main requirement to become one is to have a degree in science, technology, engineering or math, she said.

“On top of that, you have to learn to work as a team and care about making a contribution, wanting to serve and learning to work in expeditionary environments,” she said.

Barron focused on finding the things she loved and would challenge her.

“Doing tough things is actually pretty fun when you love them, when you’re passionate about them, and when you see the growth they bring to you,” she said.

Barron is currently working with other astronauts on approximately 350 science experiments related to the space station’s microgravity environment during his six-month stay there.

Space station research

“We do a lot of interesting medical research that we’re actually the subjects of,” she told Inslee.

“They are trying to understand the effects of microgravity on our bodies, both to plan future missions further from Earth and longer than they have ever been,” she said.

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NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron performed a spacewalk outside the International Space Station. Courtesy of NASA

Barron is part of NASA’s Artemis program to bring astronauts back to the moon and NASA plans to follow that up with a visit to Mars.

The medical research she is currently working on for scientists on Earth could also lead to a better understanding of diseases and new treatments and drugs for conditions like muscular dystrophy and eye problems.

Further research is focused on understanding the boiling and condensation of liquids, which could be used to design better boilers and heat exchangers for use on Earth and for future space missions.

Astronauts efficiently live on the space station, producing clean air and water from their bodily wastes.

But they’re trying to figure out how to be even more efficient as trips to the Moon and Mars are planned or perhaps to make better use of Earth’s limited resources, she said.

Speaking with Barron has been a highlight of his governorship from a mileage standpoint and an inspiration standpoint, Inslee told him.

He invited her and her family, including parents Scott and Laurie Sax of Richland, to lunch at the governor’s mansion, noting that her grandchildren were also eager to meet an astronaut.

“We’re definitely going to have to put something in place when I’m back on the planet,” Barron said.

This story was originally published December 21, 2021 at 12:57 pm.

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Annette Cary, editor, covers Hanford, energy, environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for over 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.


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