Space enthusiasts eager to learn more about what it's like to live in the cosmos are in luck: NASA is hosting a Google+ Hangout with astronauts aboard the International Space Station from 11 am to noon EST on Friday, February 22.
From February 7 to 12, NASA solicited questions for the chat via YouTube and garnered about 150 submissions for potential queries.
"We're thrilled with the questions since many of them were really good questions," says Jason Townsend, NASA's deputy social media manager.
The event will connect NASA's robust social media following with astronauts on the ground, as well as those living and working aboard the laboratory, which orbits 240 miles above Earth.
NASA has 1.7 million Facebook fans and 3.5 million Twitter followers.
Google+ Hangouts allow up to ten people to chat face-to-face via their computers or the Google+ mobile app. According to NASA, thousands more can tune in to watch the conversation live from NASA's Google+ page or via the NASA Television YouTube channel. NASA has 400,000 followers on Google+ and 213,000 YouTube subscribers.
To be considered as possible questions, video clips had to be uploaded to YouTube, tagged with #askAstro and had a limit of 30 seconds. During the event, several video questions will be selected. In addition, fans can use #askAstro to submit questions on Google+, YouTube or Twitter during the event. On the morning of the event, NASA will also open a thread on its Facebook page for questions.
The hour-long event will be connected to the International Space Station for 20 minutes, during which time astronauts Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn of NASA and Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency will provide insight into what's it's like to live aboard the station. Astronauts on the ground will answer questions for the remainder.
Marshburn and Hadfield give peeks into their lives on the Space Station via their Twitter accounts. @AstroMarshburn has 19,000 followers. @Cmdr_Hadfield has 362,000 followers.
According to Townsend, the Space Station currently has a total of six inhabitants who are conducting research and performing maintenance during their November 2012 to March 2013 stay.
"Their life aboard the station in near-weightlessness requires different approaches to everyday activities such as eating, sleeping and exercising," NASA says.
This marks NASA's first Google+ Hangout with the International Space Station. Previous Google+ Hangouts include: NASA's Charlie Bolden and SpaceX's Elon Musk; Celebrating Small Businesses Contributions to the Mars Curiosity Rover; and Beyond 2012.
Like previous social endeavors, Townsend says NASA seeks to spark scientific curiosity with this Google+ Hangout. This particular event helps highlight the notion that there are actually human beings living and working in space, far above the earth.
"We are trying to connect with as many people as possible," Townsend says. "We want to share in what's going on at the International Space Station."
Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
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