Crew members on the Space Shuttle Endeavor's last mission answered the public's questions in a unique video conference led by NewsHour science correspondent Miles O'Brien.
The astronauts discussed social media, Mars exploration and the recovery of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords during an out-of-this-world Q&A session. More than 1,800 questions were submitted via YouTube, Twitter and Google's Moderator service. About 13,000 votes were cast to see which questions should be asked.
Many viewers were curious to know if social networking has changed the way astronauts connect with the public. Astronaut Mike Fincke says he definitely has seen a difference in the way he communicates with the outside world. He says he was able to share more moments from his trips to space.
Astronaut Ron Garan believes sharing the mission is a responsibility and allows all Americans to participate in space exploration and science.
"I've certainly noticed a difference between my last mission two years ago and this mission with social media, including Tweeting. We were - some of us like myself, Box, and a few others were able to tweet right before our launch. And we shared our special meals that we had and what it was like to wake up on launch day and everything. And people really enjoyed it. And that's how we pay back to the people who pay for our salaries is to share this adventure with them." -Mike Fincke, Astronaut.
"I think those of us that, you know, have the privilege of flying in space and seeing the Earth from space, we understand that it's a responsibility to share that with everybody as best we can. And some of the social media that we use - Twitter and we have websites - Fragile Oasis is a blog site that we're using - is a way for us to have people follow along on the mission, not just as spectators but almost as fellow crewmembers and to really participate in what we're doing. And like I said, we have a - you know, we understand we have a big responsibility to share what we're doing with as many people as we can. And this is one of the tools that we use to do that."- Ron Garan, Astronaut.
1. What is NASA? What does it do?
2. Why does the U.S. government spend money exploring space?
3. What discoveries have come from America's space program?
1. What is the mission of Space Shuttle Endeavor?
2. Why do you think sites like YouTube and Google participated in this live event?
3. How does the astronauts' use of social media reflect modern day society?