Only on 7: Astronauts discuss importance of social media in space

Astronaut Mike Hopkins is less than a week away from finishing his first voyage in space.

"Until you actually get up here and experience it, you can only imagine what it's like," he said. "And it truly is incredible."

Though we can't all go up there, Hopkins is sharing his days of science and wonderment with 51,000 of us earthlings on Twitter.

From the frozen Great Lakes, to the blue Bahamas, the city lights of Italy, to the Northern Lights over Canada.

"You're just in awe at how beautiful the earth is," Hopkins said. "And every day again you're surprised at the sights that you see."

There's even time for a selfie now and then. In one, veteran astronaut Rick Mastracchio posed with the robotic arm that reeled in a supply vehicle. In another, he posted with the fresh fruit that came out of it. Fruit only lasts two days in space. He never knew how much he'd miss it.

"My first two missions up here were very short missions, only two weeks," Mastracchio said. "This time I came up for a six month stay, so it's quite a bit different, I'll tell you. Living up here is a lot different than visiting up here."

Mastracchio's an avid Facebook user, posting pictures of everyday space life from the special toilets to the special haircuts, which are admittedly not a favorite for Japanese mission commander Koichi Wakata.

"When it comes to hair cutting, personal hygiene, I really miss the gravity," Wakata said with a laugh. "But with the help of a vacuum cleaner, we can somehow survive."

Wakata tweets in English and Japanese. But one picture showed him playing it old school -- talking with a high school in Kyoto via ham radio to inspire tomorrow's astronauts.

"Hopefully many of them will try to fly in space," he said. "It's a wonderful place to live and work."

Mastracchio says as space missions get longer, communication with earth become that much more special.

"You know, it just kind of brightens my day when somebody makes me laugh on Twitter," he said.

But this one's bittersweet -- Hopkins trying on his landing suit before heading home.

"I suspect once I get down on earth, I'll probably think it was all a dream and not really sure that it actually happened," he said.

Good thing he has all those pictures, and 51,000 followers, to tell him it was real.

To follow Mike Hopkins on Twitter, click here. To follow him on Facebook, click here.

To follow Rick Mastracchio on Twitter, click here. To follow him on Facebook, click here.

To follow Koichi Wakata on Twitter, click here.

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