Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is currently on the International Space Station. (As of March, he will become Commander of ISS Expedition 35, and the first Canadian to hold the position of Commander.)
In the meantime, he is conducting and participating in experiments and doing all the astronauty, sciency things that get done on the ISS. But he is also doing something really extraordinary. He is, for the first time that I am aware of, using social media to really interact with people on earth from space. He does the standard interviews and PR exercises that astronauts have always done since the Mercury days; but he keeps up a steady stream of brief messages - and even better, photographs, hundreds of photographs - to over 250,000 followers via Twitter, from the account @Cmdr_Hadfield.
I know most of you guys aren't on Twitter, but you don't have to be to look at the messages and photos - of earth from space, of life on the ISS - Hadfield is posting. They're all available for viewing right here. He has sent photographs from so many locations all over the globe you are sure to find one that speaks to you, whether it's New York City or the Suez Canal or a corner of Australia he compares to a Jackson Pollock painting. Brian will probably like this one. Deserts, and the juxtaposition of deserts and habitations within them, particularly fascinate him.
And he should get some kind of award for this video alone.
He's also a musician and has his guitar with him on the ISS. He's done some recording up there, and is collaborating on a piece with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies for Music Monday, a project of the Coalition for Music Education.
Who says the Renaissance Man is dead?