NASA Tweetup: “Holding a Cloud”

Sharing NASA's Aerogel. It Feels Like "Holding a Cloud."
Sharing NASA's Aerogel. It Feels Like "Holding a Cloud."

“It’s like holding a cloud,” Carol Adams (@caroladams1) of Raleigh, N.C., told me when I asked what it was like holding the small brick of aerogel.

Aerogel is a silicon-based solid and 99.8 percent of the volume is empty space, making it the lightest known porous solid on Earth. NASA uses it to collect comet dust and produced aerogel for the Mars Pathfinder and Stardust missions (Source: NASA). It’s strong and light. Yeah, cool stuff.

Stephanie Smith Introduces NASA Tweetup Participants to Aerogel
Stephanie Smith Introduces NASA Tweetup Participants to Aerogel

After we learned the Endeavour launch had been scrubbed on Friday, Stephanie Smith (@Stephist) from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., brought out three containers each with a block of aerogel and allowed NASA Tweetup participants to handle the galactic block. She was quickly surrounded by anxious Tweeters anxious to hold the connection to space.

Participants needed to delicately handle the aerogel and for some reason, I was hesitant to hold it. I suppose it was my fear of my clumsiness and could imagine dropping it during the hand off because I’m not coordinated enough. I did touch it and it felt like a light grain plastic sandpaper. The three blocks of aerogel were given away to three lucky Twitterers.

If you held aerogel, how would you describe it?

If the video doesn’t play above, visit this link for a quick video of NASA Tweetup participants holding aerogel.



Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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