Jarrod Chua indulged his hobby of drawing planet-themed comics after being issued a stay-home restriction order when he was doing his national service in June 2020.
He then put the drawings on an Instagram page called @spaceytales.
To his surprise, the account attracted about 1,000 followers in just one month and has since rocketed to more than 9,000.
Now Chua, 22, is over the moon that his artwork has caught the eye of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa).
The US space agency contacted him in July 2020 for permission to repost one of his drawings linked to Nasa’s James Webb Space Telescope – a US$9bil (RM38bil) instrument designed to look farther into the cosmos.
A few months later, Nasa got in touch with him again, this time asking to work with him to modify one of his illustrations into a postcard format to use in its public outreach efforts. In return, Nasa paid him US$1,000 (RM4,180).
Chua said: “At first, I was quite happy and shocked, and didn’t think much of it. I thought they were just going to repost my drawing and that was it.
“Then it started to get more serious, and I was surprised that they wanted to pay me because I would have been happy if they didn’t pay me as well.”
The first-year undergraduate in the digital communications and integrated media programme at the Singapore Institute of Technology spent about a year working on the project with Nasa’s public outreach department.
The postcard with his illustration was launched last month on Nasa’s website. — The Straits Times/ANN