I have to admit that before I knew about Chris Hadfield, Canadian Astronaut and the current Commander for the International Space Station, I didn’t care so much about what’s really going on up in space. Sure, I know about a space mission here and there, know what caused the Challenger tragedy (I grew up reading Richard Feynman biographies), and do have an idea about the Solar System and the Universe (kinda have to because I work for the Department of Physics & Astronomy!). But Chris is special – this ISS Commander makes me feel that space is reachable and relevant, and he is the awesome friend that I want to hang out with all the time (I guess I am not the only one feeling this way – see this National Post article).
And then this music collaboration with Ed Robertson from the Canadian Band Barenaked Ladies (by the way, Barenaked Ladies wrote the opening song for the TV show the Big Bang Theory):
He even made making a honey peanut butter tortilla sandwich so much fun to watch!
Even occasionally answered questions from space (I hope this little girl becomes an astronaut or mathematician):
And shared amazing photos from space through his twitter account.
As cool as all these are, the sad thing is that the Canadian Space Agency is currently facing budget cuts and layoffs. I cannot imagine Chris Hadfield being able to do what he does now without the help and support from the Canadian Space Agency. I really hope that with Chris’ popularity, more people can pay attention to the difficult situation the Canadian Space Agency is facing right now, and encourage the Canadian Government to continue funding programs by the Agency.
Chris’ mission on International Space Station is until mid-May I believe. Meanwhile you can follow him on twitter, Facebook, or subscribe to the Canadian Space Agency’s YouTube Channel, where Chris’ videos are posted. The Guardian has a nice coverage of how Chris grasps our attention through social media.
Postscript 1: I think this is a great example of how social media can be so successfully used to engage an audience and get people interested in science and astronomy!