UT Astronaut Karen Nyberg’s Top 10 Social Media Posts

Outer space isn’t as far away as it used to be.

At least that’s how it feels, with astronauts like University of Texas grad Karen Nyberg, MS ’96, PhD ’98, staying increasingly connected on social media during their missions. Nyberg, who has been working aboard the International Space Station since May, isn’t the first astronaut to embrace social media during a mission—Chris Hadfield’s “Space Oddity” music video comes to mind—but she is one of the most beloved.

Almost every day, Nyberg shares amazing aerial photos of the Earth from space with her more than 76,000 Twitter followers. She’s also active on Facebook and Pinterest, where she posts the crafts she makes in zero gravity. We’ve rounded up 10 of her best posts below.

10. Looking down at the clouds

Nyberg’s posts often have a contemplative streak. She likes to muse about the patterns she sees in the clouds—only she looks down, not up, to see them.

9. Reflection

An important lesson in physics and a killer profile photo that can only be taken in space.

8. Sunglint

A phenomenon called sunglint occurs when the sun reflects off of the surface of the ocean at the same angle that a satellite (in this case the International Space Station) is viewing it. The smooth waters appear radiant, and the rougher waters appear dark.

7. Purple Rain

All kinds of weather phenomenon are visible from space, but these massive, electrified storm cells look particularly menacing, even from above.

6. Dancing spacesuits


Sometimes inanimate objects like to have fun in the weightlessness of microgravity too. Anything that’s not strapped down with Velcro will float freely throughout the space station, but when astronauts sleep they don’t have to strap themselves down. Their private crew quarters look like stalls with padded walls, and they can use a sleeping bag to keep snug.

5. Illuminated approach

That little cluster of red and green lights is a cargo resupply ship that launched from Japan to bring fresh food and supplies to the space station crew. When its orbit reached the height of the ISS, Nyberg captured it with a robotic arm and docked it to the station.

4. Hometown hello

The ISS can be seen streaming across the night sky like a shooting star. What you thought you were wishing on may have actually been the space station, but this shot of Karen Nyberg zooming past her childhood home is a pretty good sign that dreams do come true.

3. Hair pins


Karen Nyberg is the first astronaut ever to use Pinterest. The photo in this pin was taken during her first space flight in 2008, when Nyberg became the 50th woman in space. This year she landed a spot on the Cosmo Power List for advocating that pursuing a STEM job like engineering doesn’t mean having to give up being feminine.

Nyberg says that taming her mane in space can be more difficult than on Earth. She makes homemade headbands aboard the space station and recently released a YouTube video demonstrating the trials of washing your hair in space.

2. Spacecrafts

“I made this dinosaur for my son last Sunday, September 22,” Nyberg wrote on her Facebook page. It is made out of velcro-like fabric that lines the Russian food containers found here on the International Space Station. It is lightly stuffed with scraps from a used t-shirt.”

The space shuttle and the Soyuz aren’t the only spacecrafts Nyberg has experience with. A quilter on Earth, she brought fabric and needles and thread with her to space, but she often improvises with what she can find aboard the space station. Nyberg said the hardest part of going on a six-month mission is being away from her husband, fellow astronaut Doug Hurley, and their 3-year-old son Jack.

1. Deep in the Heart of Texas


We may be a little biased, but this nighttime shot of San Antonio and Austin from space reminds us that there is a fellow Longhorn looking down at us from space.

All photos courtesy NASA.


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