One astronaut has started taking advantage of the recently souped-up wireless connection on the International Space Station to post Twitpics of earth for all to see.
Soichi Noguchi, 44, a Japanese aeronautical engineer, has been offering up some spectacular pictures of Earth on his Twitter account. Noguchi has been living onboard the space station since last December and quickly garnered more than 65,500 followers on Twitter.
"Yeah! Endeavour is on our way!" he tweeted shortly after NASA's space shuttle Endeavour launched from the Kennedy Space Center early yesterday. The shuttle, scheduled to dock with the space station tomorrow, is delivering an Italian-built node to be attached to the station, along with a seven-window cupola that will house the station's robotics equipment.
Noguchi began posting pictures that he was taking from the space station yesterday after the tweet about Endeavour.
One Twitpic is a view of Palermo, Italy. Another shot was of a recently-erupted volcano in Sakurajima, Japan. Other Twitpics included images of Sydney, Australia, Bucharest, Romania, and Jakarta, Indonesia.
Late in January, NASA announced that it had set up a wireless connection that lets astronauts on the International Space Station surf the Web, e-mail friends and family back home, and even send Twitter messages.
NASA Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer was the first one onboard to send a tweet from the space station.
Creamer, though, wasn't the first astronaut to Twitter from space. NASA astronaut Mike Massimino used Twitter to communicate with NASA fans from the space shuttle Atlantis during its mission last May to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. However, in that case, Massimino sent 140-character messages from Atlantis to NASA's Mission Control where engineers posted his tweets on the social network.
The space station crew, on the other hand, will be posting their own tweets from the space station.
Twitter is quickly becoming a key tool for astronauts to communicate with people interested in their missions.
Just last week, NASA announced that the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour plans to take questions in space from the Twitterverse. For 20 minutes, starting at 3:24 a.m. EST on Feb. 11, the shuttle crew will field questions sent to them via Twitter.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed .