Social Media Column: Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield tweets from space, answers a @lindork question

Published in the March 12, 2013 issue of The Edmonton Sun.

Linda’s social media column can be found every Tuesday in the Edmonton Sun.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield tweets from space, answers a @lindork question

What’s cooler than an astronaut?

An astronaut who tweets. From space.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield departed Earth back in December on a mission to conduct science experiments and test new technologies at the International Space Station – an orbiting research lab.

Ever since then, Hadfield’s been tweeting about it.

From his Twitter account @Cmdr_Hadfield, the astronaut has been giving people from all around the world a rare glimpse into space.

Not only has Hadfield been tweeting about his experiments and day-to-day activities aboard the space station, he’s also been snapping and sharing stunning photos of different areas around the world – views most people have never seen before.

He’s been replying to the curious, video chatting with students and has had Twitter conversations with big name celebrities including Captain Kirk himself: William Shatner.

What can you say but ‘cool.’

In fact, Hadfield is so cool that he took time to answer my question via email about why sharing on social media from space is so important to him.

“Social media lets everyone see and experience it as I am, real-time,” Hadfield writes.

“Social media is a marvellous new way to give real-time insight into the amazing things that are happening, and the thoughts and emotions they engender. As a child I was inspired by TV image of humanity’s first steps on the Moon. Today, hopefully, social media can similarly inspire young Canadians to pursue a life of education and science that is both personally thrilling and useful for us all.”

Frank Florian with the TELUS World of Science says that through Twitter, Hadfield is getting the world interested in space flight.

“Chris has made space flight fun again. I think he’s helping to re-inspire the imagination in people with what he’s doing,” Florian tells me.

Florian says this is the first time social media has been used to this extent for such a space mission.

“In the early days of space exploration, we could only have imagined trying to talk to an astronaut up there like this,” he says.

Since Hadfield left the planet, he’s gained nearly 500,000 new followers. Clearly, people are interested.

“The response is a clear indication of how people actually feel about exploration and opportunity, when the barriers of jargon and delay are removed,” Hadfield writes.

“I think it’s really good that so many people become more aware of their Earth as one place, see it through my eyes, get a sense of the perspective.”

It’s truly a perspective like no other and is a case where social media is literally opening a new world of opportunities.

Hopefully what Hadfield is doing sets a serious social precedent for future space missions.

Hadfield is set to return to Earth in May, meanwhile, beginning Wednesday, he takes over as commander of the International Space Station, becoming the first Canadian ever to command the ISS.

That’s pretty cool.

Some Chris Hadfield Tweets of the Week

@Cmdr_Hadfield: The Space Station runs on Universal Coordinated Time, aka Greenwich. With 16 sunrises per day, we didn’t switch to Daylight Savings :)

@Cmdr_Hadfield: I’ve not seen the Great Wall of China from space and neither did the Chinese restaurants. With a big enough camera lens & clear air, maybe.

@Cmdr_Hadfield: We ask 2 or 3 people to have a videocon with us during our 5 months in space. Just had a fun show ‘n tell w/ @jannarden – interesting lady!

@Cmdr_Hadfield: Good Morning, Earth! Today: unload Dragon, fitness test, sample waste water, set up new Coarsening in Solid-Liquid Mixtures experiment.

@Cmdr_Hadfield: Good Morning, Earth! This week, Oleg, Kevin and Evgeni fly their Soyuz home, so I become Space Station Commander on Wed. Exciting for me.

Click here to read the column on the Edmonton Sun website!

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