NASA astronaut discovers Christmas elf on the ISS

An Elf on a Shelf arrives in space to keep an eye on the crew and report back to Santa.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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There are plenty of places to hide on the ISS.

Anne McClain/NASA

Welcome to the latest episode of Black Mirror, a haunting tale of a near-future world where a mysterious Elf on a Shelf appears on the International Space Station and a NASA astronaut must face a shocking dilemma: save the ISS, or save Christmas.

You won't see that description in a Netflix episode guide, but you might think it after see NASA astronaut Anne McClain's Tuesday tweet from the ISS showing an Elf on a Shelf toy strapped into a box of space supplies.

"I guess we all have to be good now," McClain wrote. "I hope with his mischievous ways, he doesn't get into anything TOO important." 

The Elf on Shelf is either a beloved or an unsettling holiday tradition, depending on your point of view. Parents are supposed to hide them around the house for kids to find. That's cute, but they're also watching you. 

"The magical Scout Elves help Santa manage his naughty and nice lists by taking note of a family's Christmas adventures, and reporting back to Santa at the North Pole nightly," says the company behind Elf on a Shelf. It's not quite Big Brother, but still. 

The ISS just received a cargo shipment in a SpaceX Dragon capsule, so the elf may have been a stowaway. You can see a couple of pieces of fresh fruit floating nearby. 

McClain arrived on the ISS after launching on a Russian Soyuz rocket on Dec. 3. This is her first space mission, and hopefully she can keep the elf in check through the holiday season.

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