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Guide to the Roger D. Arno Papers, 1966-2009
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Other Finding Aids
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Biographical History
  • Sources Consulted:
  • Indexing Terms
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement of the Roger D. Arno Papers
  • Processing Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Roger D. Arno Papers
    Date (inclusive): 1966-2009
    Collection Number: PP14.01
    Creator: Arno, Roger D.
    Extent: Number of containers: 3

    Volume: .9 cubic feet
    Repository: Ames Research Center, Ames History Archives
    Moffett Field, California 94035
    Abstract: This collection contains personal papers of Roger D. Arno, a retired NASA Ames Research Center engineer and artist, including portfolios, sketches, drawings, posters, artifacts, and optical media. The bulk of the collection comprises digital and paper copies of Arno's artwork, in the form of technical and astronomical illustrations representing engineering concepts, as well as editorial cartoons about NASA people and projects. Also present are Arno's memoirs about his career with NASA.
    Language: English

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright does not apply to United States government records. For non-government material, researcher must contact the original creator. This collection contains copyrighted material.

    Preferred Citation

    NASA Ames History Archives, NASA Ames Research Center. Moffett Field, California. PP14.01, Roger D. Arno Papers, [Container number]: [Folder number]. [Identification of item]. [Date, if available].

    Abbreviated Citation

    NASA ARC. PP14.01, [Container number]: [Folder number]. [Identification of item]. [Date, if available].

    Other Finding Aids

    File structures for the optical media are detailed in a supplemental finding aid filed under collection number pp1401.
    Metadata for all digital material is filed under collection number pp1401.

    Administrative Information

    Related Collections

    ART1387: Artifacts Collection, Artwork Series
    AFS8000.5-LCROSS: LCROSS Project Collection, 2007-2010

    Acquisition Information

    Donated by Roger D. Arno on January 30, February 13, and April 8, 2014.


    Accrual of original watercolor of Martin A. "Marty" Knutson was added to the collection in January 2019 (donated by Sarah Filsuf; Accession 2019-003).
    Accrual of materials produced by Arno ws added to the collection in August 2020 (donated by Catherine Johnson in May 2019; Accession 2019-015).

    Biographical History

    Roger Arno's civil service career at NASA Ames Research Center spanned from 1966 to his retirement in 2000, after which he continued to work as a consultant for another decade. Unusually, Arno worked as both engineer and artist, dual roles that proved to be complementary. As an engineer, Arno supported many research and design projects (proposed and actual) that were related to manned, unmanned, and biological research missions. As an artist, he illustrated numerous engineering and design concepts and created outreach materials. His artwork ranged from precise computer-aided designs and detailed illustrations of elaborate scenes, to logo art and animations. In the 1960s and 1970s, Arno's designs were rendered by hand, mainly in the form of pencil or pen and ink drawings. Later, the majority were executed by computer, with increasing sophistication as design software matured. Ever the commentator, Arno combined his artistic ability with a healthy sense of humor to provide amusing sketches of colleagues and projects, as well as frank, sometimes acerbic, editorial commentary about NASA.
    In January 1966, Clarence "Sy" Syvertson hired Arno to join NASA's Mission Analysis Division (MAD) created by Alfred Eggers. In this role, Arno's efforts included advanced mission planning and researching space power systems. He used his skill as an artist to illustrate aspects of his research and poke some fun at what he saw as misguided activities or questionable decisions. He also was tasked with putting together special occasion cartoons and roasts. In this first year with the MAD, Arno also pursued advanced coursework at Santa Clara University, earning a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering by 1967. He worked in the MAD until it was dissolved in the 1970s (circa 1975).
    In the next decade, his work focused on Earth resource research and applications, mainly remote sensing land resource surveys in which data were collected by aircraft and satellite, and analyzed with computers, rather than the traditional process of reviewing photographs by hand. He also created outreach materials, such as an unofficial comic-book-type booklet to educate forestry service units about remote sensing and a sketch of an earth resources (ER-2) aircraft. By mid decade in 1976, Arno was honored with an assignment to visually document the Apollo Soyuz Recovery Mission for NASA's art program.
    Arno spent the 1980s supporting NASA's Space Station Biological Research Program (SSBRP) development activities, by planning out how to design and implement an animal research facility on an international space station. Guiding the development of specifications, hardware, and systems for this ambitious effort proved both rewarding and challenging, but ended in disappointment when the program was ultimately cancelled. Arno produced a great deal of artwork at this time presenting, among other things, various life sciences accommodation hardware scenarios. He used traditional and electronic media to create visual representations ranging from painterly colored pencil drawings to precise schematics. Throughout the process, Arno provided a running commentary with editorial cartoons. He used these to vent his frustrations over complicated reporting structures, reorganizations, and astronaut objections to perceived smells and vibration of onboard animal research facilities. He also produced comical sketches, such as personifications of research animals as suburbanites going about their daily routines, sometimes complaining about the astronauts.
    In the 1990s, Arno supported mission concept development and associated proposals for a wide variety of subjects, from planetary landers and micro satellites to sample handling facilities. Notably, Arno supported the proposal effort for Lunar Prospector, which won the honor of being the first of NASA's Discovery Missions. Arno's computer graphic designs evolved and matured during this decade, as he continued to master a procession of increasingly sophisticated design and animation software tools.
    Arno retired in 2000 but was soon asked to return and assist with various efforts as a consultant, most recently contributing to the successful proposal for another mission to the Moon, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). After the mission was selected, Arno remained on the LCROSS team and supported the mission's outreach efforts by producing logos, posters, illustrations, and computer animations.

    Sources Consulted:

    NASA Ames History Archives, NASA Ames Research Center. Moffett Field, California. PP14.01, Roger D. Arno Papers, 1 : 1. Arno, Roger, n.d., ca. 2014. NASA -- Ames Research Center: Excellence in Pursuit of Identity, A Personal Perspective.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms may be used to index this collection.

    Corporate Name

    Ames Research Center
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Mission Analysis Division

    Personal Name

    Arno, Roger D.
    Bauer, Ethel H.
    Beggs, James M.
    Givens, John J.
    Goldin, Daniel Saul, 1940-
    Hubbard, G. Scott, 1948-
    Klein, Harold P.
    Knudson, Martin A.
    Mark, Hans M.
    Souza, Kenneth Allen
    Worden, Al, 1932-2020


    Ames Research Center--Art collections
    Animals in space
    Apollo Soyuz Test Project
    Astronomy in art
    Biological Facility Research Project
    International Space Station
    Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (Spacecraft)
    Lunar Prospector (Spacecraft)
    Outer space in art
    Remote sensing
    Space Station Biological Research Project
    Space vehicles in art

    Scope and Content

    The bulk of this collection comprises nearly forty years of Roger Arno's artwork, primarily in the form of computer graphic designs and copies of hand drawn editorial cartoons. Optical media in the collection contain an assemblage of his born digital graphic designs including mission concept and astronomical illustrations of scenes involving manned planetary exploration, space vehicles, satellites, hardware systems, and proposal cover art, as well as animations of a "Free Flyer" heavy spacecraft and LCROSS mission visualizations, showing launch, spacecraft separation, orbit, reentry (FFH), and lunar impact (LCROSS). The disks also contain digital copies of his cartoons, hand drawn illustrations, and a few photographs of Arno and others, such as astronaut Alfred Worden and Hollywood film producer and director James Cameron. The born digital contents show a wide range of works that were created from the 1980s to the 2000s with a progression of design software tools.
    Also present are portfolios complied by Arno, containing his memoirs and printed copies of selected artwork and cartoons. Though most were assembled to present his work products and perspectives over the decades, one is as an example of the many retirement booklets Arno gave to friends and colleagues when they left Ames. These portfolios roughly follow the stages of Arno's career, with duplication of some material across them.
    In addition to the portfolios are a few sets of original drawings along with photographic reproductions of them. From these, one can see a sequence of methods Arno used to illustrate concepts by hand. For example, there are two drawings of a female astronaut working in a life sciences module. One is a draft pencil sketch and the other is a brightly-colored version of the composition in watercolor, pen, and ink. Another set includes a pen and ink drawing of a scene, a reproduction of the drawing with printed text labels pasted on it, and a reproduction of the drawing and paste-up, colorized in cool tones.
    The collection also includes objects Arno designed, such as mission memorabilia, and three publications, including a children's book entitled "The Story of Space & Rockets," a book about the ER-2 flight and observation capabilities created for pilot Marty Knutson, and a selection of Arno's pencil sketches of non-NASA subjects with a personal introduction. Finally, colleague Catherine "Caye" Johnson's copies of retirement booklets and other printed compilations of Arno's cartoons and commentary that he distributed over the years were added to the collection. Some of these include Johnson's comments about individuals and topics covered in some of the cartoons.
    The main body of Arno's sketches and graphic designs in this collection provides a glimpse into how artwork was produced for NASA Ames for nearly half a century. The works embody a historical progression of techniques from hand illustrations to computer-aided drawings, created using increasingly sophisticated software tools. Arno's memoirs provide a summary of his career as engineer and artist at Ames in his own words. From these and his editorial cartoons, one can see the frankness and frivolity of the man as he reveals perspectives not so easily found in official records.
    Formats: Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), Portable Document Format (PDF), QuickTime Movie (MOV).

    Arrangement of the Roger D. Arno Papers

    These records are arranged by format, with paper records first, followed by original artwork, optical media, posters, and artifacts. The contents of the optical media are in their original order.

    Processing Information

    Digital files were retrieved from the "Arno Space Art" and "LCROSS and Free Flyer Highlights..." CD-R disks during processing, and access copies were created. Among these, for accessibility and stability, images were converted to JPEG format, documents and presentations were converted to PDF format, missing file extensions were appended, and nonconforming operating system control characters were removed from filenames. Content on the "LCROSS" DVD was locked, so a disk image could not be created, but this is not a unique disk. Additional information is filed under collection number pp1401.