Tag Archives: International Space Station

New views of eclipses

There’s been a few eclipses lately. Here’s some photos showing a different perspective of eclipses.

This one was one of 1999 August 11 solar eclipse was one of the last ever taken from the Mir space station. The two bright spots that appear on the upper left are thought to be Jupiter and Saturn. Mir was deorbited in a controlled re-entry in 2001.

And another one by Thierry Legault of the partial eclipse seen in Europe a few days ago. With a silhouette of the International Space Station. As Astronomy Picture of the Day says this photo captured “planet Earth’s two largest satellites against the bright solar disk”

Thanks to Astronomy Picture of the Day

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Wine and the Watchtower

This photo has always impressed me. A fantastic view from the International Space Station. Locals will recognise our prime wine growing areas of the Wairarapa, Blenhiem, Nelson, Waipara and Canterbury.

It also reminds me – I saw some god botherers in our street the other day. They stand out like a sore thumb, don’t they?

However, they must have got the message. They seem to have stopped knocking on my door.

Thanks to Pundit Kitchen: Would You Like A Copy Of The Watchtower?!

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The ISS – a decade of growth

There was to be a shuttle launch today (delayed several times already). One of the last few before the shuttles are retired.

So it’s appropriate to reflect on the fact that this month marks a decade of human occupation of the International Space Station (ISS). It has now been continuously crewed since November 2000.

Scientific American marks the occasion with a slide show portraying the development of the ISS from “from a single Russian module to a behemoth orbital outpost the size of a football field.” (see A Decade on the Fly: Building the International Space Station–Module by Module [Slide Show]).

The Zarya Module, in the first photograph, provided an early source of propulsion and power. It was the first piece of the ISS to reach orbit being launched into space in November 1998 on a Russian Proton rocket.

The ten photos below from the Scientific American article show how the space station grew module by module. Go to the article to get a description of each stage of the ISS evolution.

November 1998

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Historic shuttle launch photos

The Shuttle launches are always dramatic events. Pity there are only two more planned. They are one event I would have liked to have seen before popping my clogs.

However, there are always the photos. And some of the most interesting are those taken from the air, or even from orbit, rather than the ground. I have seen a few taken from airplanes, or by parachuters. There is even one taken from the International Space Station!

Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer and author of the book Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End . . ., has been presenting some of these on his blog recently. His last one, taken by Van Wideman, is of the launch which carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit back in 1990.

This must be pretty rare:

Thanks to Bad Astronomer – Diving into and out of the sky.

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Last chance – almost!

With the retirement of NASA’s shuttle fleet later this year we won’t be seeing images like this any more.

This shows Image of the solar transit of the International Space Station (ISS) and Space Shuttle Atlantis 50 minutes before docking last weekend. The last planned trip for Atlantis.

Have a look at the full image or click on the photo – it’s worth it!

The image is by Thierry Legault (see Solar Transit of ISS and Atlantis – Last Mission of Atlantis).
Thanks to Bad Astonomer (see ISS, Shuttle transit the Sun!).


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Orbital debris, the ISS, moon and sun

Here’s an animation showing the accumulation of debris in near earth orbit due to human activity since 1957. It does look very cluttered but remember the articles aren’t to scale.

YouTube – Space debris over time.

And where is all the junk coming from (click on image to get more detail – thanks to Michæl Paukner’s photostream): Continue reading

A space nerd’s Easter

Easter was a great time for space nerds.

I certainly enjoyed myself. Got to see several passes of the International Space Station (ISS). Once you know the times it’s easy to find. These days it is so bright – and of course it’s moving. Have a look at Heavens Above. Register and enter your location. It’s easy to check at any time when the most favourable passes will be.

It is moving to think that humans are on board the moving speck of light.  Last week there were 3, now there are 13. Four of them women. This is the largest number of women in orbit at any one time.

Last Friday two Russian Cosmonauts and and a US astronaut were launched from Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz Capsule. On Monday seven astronauts were launched from Florida in a shuttle. These launches are always impressive. The video coverage of the shuttle launch included shots of an overflight of the ISS 20 minutes before the launch. Soichi Noguchi, one of the astronaughts on baord the ISS had taken this photo of the launch site several hours previously.

Soichi Noguchi is a keen twitterer (Astro_Soichi) and photographer. He regularly sends photos of cities and locations the ISS passes over. Have a look at some of his photos on Twitpic. Here’s a recent time exposure he took of an aurora.

There will only be three more shuttle launches before the fleet is retired. Pity, I would really have loved to see a launch in person. Everyone who has can’t stop raving about it, they are so impressive. Guess I will just have to make do with the video streaming. NASA broadcasts these, as well as the Soyuz launches in real time (see NASA TV).


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A photographer’s dream

Just imagine yourself as a photographer on the International Space Station (ISS). Constantly changing scenery – and most of it beautiful.

One of the astronauts, Jose Hernandez, has been sending back some lovely photos. Here are a couple below. Click on them to go to the originals – the one with the space station can be enlarged.

You can follow Jose on twitter – Astro_Jose

Sin palabras...Simplemente asombroso! Without words! Simply b... on Twitpic

La estacion y el horizonte de la Tierra. Una vista espectacul... on Twitpic

Thanks to Sin palabras…Simplemente asombroso! Without words! Simply breathtaking!


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The ISSS used for teaching

I can still remember one of the few practical demonstrations I observed in my first year university physics class many years ago. This illustrated conservation of momentum. It involved our lecturer climbing on to the lecture room bench and standing on a plank of wood resting on (empty) beer bottles laid on their side (to reduce friction).

When he jumped forward by a small distance, the plank of wood shot back by a larger distance (conserving momentum). It was a risky experiment and several beer bottles broke.

I am not sure how many students appreciated the physical law being demonstrated. Practical demonstrations were not common in teaching those days. I suspect for many it just reinforced in their minds that this particular lecturer was, if not mad, at least eccentric.

In these more enlightened day I hope teachers use every advantage to practically demonstrate physical laws. Some of the videos being recorded on the International Space Station ISS could be useful for this.

Last week Astronaut Jeff Williams demonstrated the acceleration experienced inside the cabin during a planned ISS reboost. The ISS is reboosted periodically to maintain its orbit, and to prepare for visiting spacecraft, such as the space shuttle (a launch planned this week) and Progress vehicles.

Jeff’s experiment demonstrates that objects will continue in motion unless acted on by a force. In this case he shows that a free-floating body will move relative to the station when the station is accelerating.

A simple demonstration of an important physical law.

via YouTube – Space Station Reboost.


Twittering in space

sts129-s-002All going well the STS-129 Shuttle launch will occur on Monday 2.28 pm EST, USA (8.28 am Tuesday, NZ time).

Here’s a photograph of the crew for this mission.

What interests me, though, is that the number of astronauts using social media like Twitter is currently increasing markedly. It’s now quite common to get tweets from orbit. Two of the STS-129 crew and two currently on the International Space Station are using twitter

The STS-129 crew (in the photo) are  astronauts Charlie Hobaugh (left), commander; and Barry Wilmore, pilot. From the left (back row) are astronauts Leland Melvin (Astro_Flow), Mike Foreman, Robert Satcher (ZeroG_MD and Astro_Bones)and Randy Bresnik, all mission specialists. [The astro_ links are their twitter accounts].

Currently on the International Space Station are astronauts Nicole Stott (Astro_Nicole) and Jeff Williams (Astro_Jeff) who have been twittering regularly.

It’s fascinating to get these little messages from orbit. Like Nicole Stott’s “Saw my first shooting star from space tonight! Over Mongolia” or Jeff Williams’ “Progress 35 has docked to ISS. Fresh fruit and vegetables included. A few hours to go to get thru checks and hatch open.”If you are looking for people to follow on Twitter you could do a lot worse than following these astronauts. You will get tweets from out of thios world.

Here’s a video of the STS-129 mission profile


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