Languages, Tweeting Astronauts & Serendipity

That time a tweeting astronaut currently living and working on the International Space Station favorited one of my tweets


  1. UPDATE / Correction - November 7, 2015:

    I got a little over-enthusiastic with this Storify. It turns out Andreas Mogensen @Astro_Andreas is not currently on the International Space Station. He returned to Earth on September 12. He was interacting with me from Earth, not space, and he told me himself:
  2. So this story is not really about a new twitter milestone for me - getting an acknowledgment from an astronaut currently IN space - since @Astro_Andreas is not the first astronaut who's been to space who has interacted with me on twitter; that milestone belongs to @Astro_Clay:  http://lotsinspace.blogspot.com/2015/05/conversations-with-astroclay.html 
  3. Still, @Astro_Andreas has more recently been to space and I could make a technical argument around that fact. But I won't. I made a mistake, one of the most basic in fact-based journalism, blogging and publishing: I forgot to fact-check. Worse, I didn't actually forget. I fact-checked all the stuff for this Storify that I was NOT sure about. Which is precisely why I did not check who is currently on-orbit on the ISS. I thought I knew. I thought I was sure. It probably didn't help that NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren (@astro_kjell), who is currently tweeting from the ISS, has a Scandinavian name.
  4. No, I forgot to fact-check everything prior to publication - including and especially the stuff I thought I was sure about. Nope, that's not likely to happen again.

    Alas, a wise NASA scientist (Hi @marsroverdriver!) once told me: "Never apologize for your enthusiasm for space and space exploration, never!" So I'm not going to do that, either. I'll leave the original Storify right here. All its elements except "new twitter milestone" remain intact: Twitter as a multi-lingual communication tool, the coolness of tweeting astronauts and the geographical serendipity that links this Storify to both my birth hometown in Germany and my chosen home in Los Angeles.


  5. Original Storify published on November 5, 2015:

    This morning, I noticed a tweet from an official NASA account announcing the first NASA resources published in Norwegian. Unfortunately, I can't find that tweet again. It was in Norwegian and I could read or understand most of it. I had noticed this ability before with tweets from Andreas Mogensen (@Astro_Andreas), an ESA astronaut currently on-orbit on the ISS, who often tweets in his native language, which is Danish. As I began the tweet stream below, I was confusing the two languages, referring to Norwegian when I meant Danish. This would have been pretty embarrassing for a linguist - if it hadn't turned into an epic twitter win due to an acknowledgment from Andreas Mogensen himself. FROM SPACE!

  6. This is where I was done with this particular tweet stream, or so I thought. Then @oeyni chimed in and alerted me to my mistake referencing Norwegian when I meant Danish.

  7. I may have cringed when I realized I erroneously referred to @Astro_Andreas's native language as Norwegian. While everything I tweeted above is true for both Danish and Norwegian, that was legit a <facepalm> - inducing error for me to make.

  8. And then... @Astro_Andreas himself favorited my tweet above.

    From the ISS!
    From space!
    From NOT ON THIS PLANET!!

    I reacted accordingly, and I'm not the fainting type :)
    (Full disclosure: I didn't actually faint. But I did gasp, audibly)

    This is also a great object lesson on how owning up to your mistakes and correcting them is the best way to go. For a minute there, I was considering deleting my entire tweet stream above due to the mistake.

  9. I have been tweeting @ astronauts on the ISS ever since I discovered there ARE tweeting astronauts on the ISS in 2008. I never did so with the expectation that one would reply directly to me or favorite my tweet. I mean, they're IN SPACE, with lots of stuff to do. I'd ignore my twitter @ mentions from strangers, too.

    Leave it to Andreas Mogensen to surprise the hell out of me, in the best possible away. Receiving a Favorite of one of my tweets from the ISS feels a lot like getting invited to participate in a NASA Social / Tweetup, which I have done three times. A twitter interaction like the one this morning with @Astro_Andreas closed the distance between space and me personally by orders of magnitude. It's like walking into a room full of fellow NASA Social attendees from around the country / world who share my vision and passion for our human future in space.
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