x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

'Star' astronaut Chris Hadfield returns to Earth

Science needs more social media stars like the astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Chris Hadfield, who returned to Earth yesterday after a five-month odyssey in space, is no ordinary astronaut.

During his time in orbit, the first Canadian to serve as commander of the International Space Station has become a "space superstar" of social media.

With his frequent, unprecedented, witty social media postings from zero gravity, Mr Hadfield won the attention and interest of many who would otherwise have had little interest in the Station and its residents.

His tweets and videos have been funny, engaging and informative. In one YouTube video, for example, he demonstrated how to "cook" spinach in space. On Twitter, he responded to his fan William Shatner in the persona of a junior officer on the starship Enterprise, one commanded by Shatner's Star Trek character Capt James T Kirk. His last video from orbit, in which he sings a revised version of David Bowie's old hit Space Oddity, has gone viral; Bowie himself re-tweeted it.

By harnessing the power of the social media, Mr Hadfield may have inspired more interest in space and science than all the world's space agencies could do in a decade. Science needs such star power.