James O. Arnold

Senior Research Scientist

James O. Arnold joined IHMC in May 2016 and is serving (via IPA) as a senior scientist for the Entry Systems and Technology Division at NASA Ames Research Center. His current research is focused on technologies needed for very advanced Mars Missions.

Dr. Arnold was most recently the Project Manager for NASA’s Asteroid Threat Assessment Project, an activity he initiated for the agency in 2014. Dr. Arnold’s career with NASA spanned five decades and began with his research in 1962 for the Apollo Program. His contributions included research engineering, branch management, a tour of duty at NASA Headquarters (aerothermodynamics program manager) and division management. He retired in 2002 from the position of Chief of Ames’ Space Technology Division. In this position, he provided agency leadership for Aerothermodynamics, Computational Chemistry, Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) research and development, arc jet testing and nanotechology research and development. In the 1970’s he played a key role in the establishment of computational chemistry as a discipline in NASA. In 1997, he initiated NASA Ames research and development in nanotechnology. His mentoring program enhanced career development for many who advanced to the highest ranks of leadership, management and research in NASA (Senior Executive Service and the Senior Scientist Corps). Dr. Arnold has published extensively in the fields of aerothermodynamics and computational chemistry. He is well known nationally and internationally in the technical fields mentioned above.

Dr. Arnold received his B.S. at the University of Kansas in Engineering Physics, his M.S. from Stanford University in Aeronautics and Astronautics and his Ph.D. from York University, Toronto, Canada, in Molecular Physics. Dr. Arnold received NASA’s Medal for Outstanding Leadership in 1986 (for his contributions to the development of the Numerical Aerodynamic Simulator and Computational Chemistry) and the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement in 1997. In 2000, he received NASA’s group achievement award for his service for the Mars Program Independent Assessment Team looking into reasons for the loss of two Mars Missions in 1998. In 2004, he received the NASA’s Public Service Medal for his work as an investigator for the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. Dr. Arnold was awarded NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2016. He was a recipient of the president’s Senior Executive Service (SES) Meritorious Executive Award (limited to five percent of the national SES Corps) in 1991 and a recipient of the SES Distinguished Executive Award (limited to one percent of the national SES Corps) in 1998. Dr. Arnold is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a member of the International Academy of Astronautics.