An Astronaut Just Instagrammed This From Outer Space

astronaut Mike Hopkins selfie from the International Space Station

One small step for social media, one giant leap for social media-kind.

NASA and the International Space Station (ISS) have long been public and enthusiastic adopters of social media, from Twitter all the way to YouTube. This week they broke the Instagram barrier, when American astronaut Steven Swanson uploaded this celestial image of himself floating in the cupola of the ISS. His caption to accompany the #nofilter photo?

"Back on ISS, life is good." - Swanny #nasa #iss #exp39 #cupola #international #space #station #soyuz #earth".

While Swanson's photo was not the first selfie in space (it's technically not a selfie, and that honor goes to astronaut Mike Hopkins), it's a beautiful example of what Instagram is capable of.

While the social media platform is best known for bringing food pictures, #tbt and filtered sunsets to the masses, never forget that Instagram also has the power to bring us intimately close to impossible places and human triumphs with ease and familiarity.

With the barrier to take and share so low, Instagram can beam us around the world in much the same way other social media channels can, but with one marked difference: the prioritization of images over words. In the past Instagram has brought us intimately close to huge global happenings like the U.S. presidential elections or the protests in Egypt and Turkey. 

From its somewhat humble and derided roots of selfies and foodies, Instagram has matured into an instrument of discussion and wonder that helps us connect far beyond what our friends are eating or what sunset or concert they last saw. We're also privy to remarkable things happening all around the world, in space, and beyond. (I really can't wait for a bottom of the ocean selfie.)

Swanson's Instagram is out of this world (we had to), but it's also just a brilliant reminder of the power of images and honestly of Instagram.

Plus planet Earth is photobombing him. If only all Instagrams could be so cool.