Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield holds a camera in the International Space Station.
Photograph courtesy NASA
When astronaut Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Monday, he brought home something unique: more than 800, 000 Twitter followers. Over the past five months, the Canadian commander has spent much of his free time tweeting pictures from space, interacting with his fans, and capturing video—of himself, his crewmates, and anything floating by in zero gravity.
Though Hadfield is probably the most famous astronaut on Twitter, he isn't the only one experimenting on social media. In fact, many astronauts—including those slated for upcoming missions—are actively engaging with people on sites like Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. So who's worth following from down here on Earth?
Space fans might want to start with NASA Mission Specialist Karen Nyberg, who's the next astronaut slated to go into space on May 28 aboard the Russian Soyuz. It'll be Nyberg's second mission to the International Space Station and her first as a Twitter user. She tweets under the handle @AstroKarenN, but where she really shines online is on the social media site Pinterest, where she curates boards entitled "Simple Joys on Earth, " "Prep for Spaceflight, " and "Hair and Space."
Then there's NASA astronaut Mike Massimino (@Astro_Mike) who holds the distinction of being the first person to tweet in space. At the time—back in 2009—Massimino couldn't actually send a tweet from space itself. Instead, his tweet about sunrises and sunsets in orbit was sent to his ground crew, who then posted it to Twitter. Fellow astronaut TJ Creamer's emoticon-filled tweet, sent from the International Space Station after it acquired Internet access, was actually the first tweet sent from space itself.