Mario Runco earned his bachelor of science in meteorology and physical oceanography from the City College of New York (1974) where he played on the varsity ice hockey team, and his master‘s degree from Rutgers University (1976). His CCNY alma mater later awarded him an honorary doctoral degree in 1999. Before starting a career in the Navy Mario graduated from the New Jersey State Police Academy and was a New Jersey State Trooper for two years.
Serving in the Navy from 1978 to 1994, among other duties he served as the meteorological officer aboard the amphibious assault ship USS NASSAU (LHA-4) where he earned his Surface Warfare Officer designation and as Commanding Officer of Oceanographic Research Unit 4.
He was selected to become an astronaut in 1987. A veteran of three space flights aboard the Space Shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour, he has logged over 551 hours in space including a four and half hour spacewalk during his second mission.
He currently serves as an Earth and Planetary Scientist at the NASA-Johnson Space Center’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Office and is the Lead for Spacecraft Window Optics and utilization of the International Space Station’s Window Observational Research Facility (WORF).