Commander Hadfield Reports to Ground Control

BY Jenny Marder  May 14, 2013 at 1:33 PM EST

Astronaut Chris Hadfield performs David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in microgravity.

Commander Chris Hadfield is a great many things: a photographer, an educator, a social media maven — did I forget to mention astronaut? And it’s with great delight that we add troubadour to the laundry list.

That his music video — a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” — has already scored 6.9 million hits is a testament to his success as a great popularizer of science and space. Complete with slow blinks, a floating guitar and some liberties taken with the lyrics, it is also the first music video ever made in zero gravity — that’s no small feat.

Lesser known, but just as fun to watch, is this song Hadfield performed with hundreds of students at Canada’s Ontario Science Centre. It’s called “Is Somebody Singing,” a play on the International Space Station letters, and co-written by Hadfield and the Barenaked Ladies’ front man Ed Robertson.

From the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield performs a song with students at the Ontario Science Center.

Early Tuesday, Hadfield emerged from a few days of rare Twitter silence to inform his 915,000 Twitter followers that he is now “back on Earth, happily readapting to the heavy pull of gravity,” and we thought we’d use this opportunity to highlight some of his extracurricular activities in space.

He sent thousands of tweets, often multiple times a day. Many of them showcased various parts of the world from space — “the southwest corner of Africa,” “a mining town in northern China” or “Belfast, at the mouth of the River Lagan.” And many many shots of his homeland: Canada.

Some of them read like poetry, like this:

And this:

He gave nearly hourly updates during this week’s spacewalk to fix an ammonia leak. He posted photos of the station’s “refrigerator art.” And there was the time he “secretly” told his 900,000 Twitter followers that he’d ordered flowers for his mom. She wouldn’t know, he said. She’s not on Twitter.

And he used video updates to educate people on daily life in space: How the body adapts to weightlessness, what happens when you wring out a wet washcloth and detecting smells in microgravity.

Two days ago, he posted a final picture on Twitter, a “spaceflight finale,” he called it. The caption was fitting for his final hours moments on the ISS.

On Monday, at 10:30 p.m. EDT, Hadfield and flight engineers Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko landed safely in Kazakhstan after spending five months — 146 days — in space. You can watch the landing here:

As Hadfield has said, “time sure flies at 8 km a second.”

QUICK BITES

  • A fascinating and scary post by New York Times science writer Andy Revkin about the stroke he suffered in 2011, how he anticipated it and what he’s done since.

  • Speaking of celebrities and managing your health care, Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy and told the world about it.

  • Turns out pot isn’t so green after all. A study in the journal Energy Policy, says the carbon footprint required to produce 2.2 pounds of marijuana equals driving across the country five times. Researchers singled out the indoor grown varieties for their energy intensive lamps, fans and other appliances used to stimulate growth, the Seattle Times reports.

NOT SAFE FOR LUNCH

The United Nations urges people to eat insects to fight world hunger, BBC News reports.

David Pelcyger and Ellen Rolfes contributed to this report.