Astronaut Chris Hadfield is, in addition to everything else, a photographer. This is his favorite image.
Chris Hadfield -- scientist, songsmith, poet, tweeter, Shatner buddy, mustache-rocker, International Space Station denizen, Canadian -- is quickly proving himself to be one of the savviest astronauts this side of Earth. While the Expedition 34 flight engineer is remarkable in the way that all astronauts are remarkable, he has made a name for himself, in particular, through his copious use of the communications technologies available to him on the ISS and beyond it. He tweets several times a day to his more than 160,000 Twitter followers. He regularly stars in YouTube videos. He recently produced the first song ever to be recorded outside of Earth.
But Chris Hadfield, explorer/engineer/evangelist, is perhaps best known for his photographs. To follow his Twitter feed is to be treated, pretty much every day, to spellbinding images of Earth, taken from beyond its borders: the Australian outback, glacier tongues in the Himalayas, an island off the coast of Indonesia ("an island made for running laps"), a thunderstorm from above. The photos are mesmerizing and revealing and beautiful -- each one an extremely high-tech work of art -- and they are the result of obvious love on the part of the guy who took them. "The favorite pastime of astronauts is to be able to look out the window and look at the Earth from above," Hadfield said in a press conference this afternoon. That's in large part because the space station itself is "such a wonderful place to better understand our planet." And new communications technologies have allowed Hadfield's other-worldly artistry to take on a new immediacy. With Twitter, he said, "I can directly, as I see beautiful things, send those images to the ground."