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NASA's Twitter feed hacked

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It was like a discount electronics attack from outer space. Earlier today, NASA's Twitter feed for astronauts currently in space (@NASA_Astronauts) briefly broke with the standard space jibber jabber, jammed on the cap locks, and subjected followers to an onslaught of messages about "BRAND NEW PLASMA FLAT SCREEN TV!!! WHOLESALE LIST!"

"Either NASA astronauts are really getting hit hard by Obama's or their Twitter account has been hacked by spammers just over an hour ago," noted Gizmodo's Jesus Diaz. "For a second, however, I thought Best Buy took over the ISS (International Space Station)."

NASA caught and remedied the problem by the time the tech blog alerted the masses to this galactic government infiltration. Thirty-three minutes after the final red alert about hot flat-screen deals, @NASA_Astronauts posted this tweet: "Our apologies for the odd Twitter behavior earlier. We have fixed the problem. Back to tweets from NASA astronauts."

If you're interested in tips on discount electronics, you'll have to look elsewhere. The counterfeit tweets have since been removed. "We closely monitor the Twitter accounts, and once the issue was discovered we took corrective action," Stephanie Schierholz, NASA's social media manager said in an e-mail. 

The space program has been active on Twitter since 2008, when NASA took a "Shorty Award" in the science category for the automated updates sent from the NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander mission. "The Shorties" are independent awards event honoring Twitter achievements.

In May 2009, NASA astronaut Michael Massimino sent the first Twitter messages from space during his shuttle mission to overhaul the Hubble Space Telescope.

NASA now features personal Twitter feeds for most crew members, as well as a group account — @NASA_Astronauts — the one that was hacked. That feed currently has 48 thousand followers, which seems paltry. If anyone deserves 4 million followers, it's NASA, not Kim Kardashian. Even counting today, you get a lot less spam.

Follow Helen A. S. Popkin on Twitter or friend her on Facebook. What are you, chicken?