“I find it frightening that the first alien contact we might make could be a tweet.”
Truer words have never been spoken by a YouTube commenter.
NASA astronaut Mark Polansky, who will be commanding the next mission to the International Space Station, has just posted a video to NASA’s official YouTube channel inviting YouTubers and Twitter fans to take part in his next mission, submitting video questions via YouTube and following mission updates over Twitter.
To ask a question, Polansky says to create a video of around thirty seconds and post it to YouTube, then send it to his Twitter account using an @reply. He’ll respond to the questions on NASA TV, which is broadcast nation-wide.
Polansky won’t actually be the first person to Tweet from space – that title will likely belong to Mike Massimino, who plans to Tweet from Space Shuttle Atlantis, which embarks on mission STS-125 in less than three days.
NASA has recently been making a big push in using modern consumer technology, the web, and social sites to reach a broader audience. Yesterday it launched a collection of very impressive Photosynth galleries of the ISS and Mars Rover. And they have more exciting releases in the works. This is something that is long overdue – the public may not be as enamored of space missions as it was a few decades ago, but the feats these astronauts are undertaking are no less impressive. And frankly I’d much rather follow the updates of true heroes than yet another celebrity on Twitter.
Still, I can’t help but wonder if alien races will stumble across the tweets and conclude that our brains are only capable of interpreting 140 characters at a time.