Posts tagged iss
Last night, Soyuz TMA-07M aka 33S safely returned to Earth with its crew of 3 astronauts. One of them was Chris Hadfield, a Canadian who served as ISS Commander for the last few months and has been living onboard since December. For the last 6 months, he’s been burning up the internet with cool things to watch and see and it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that he has single-handedly brought NASA and the ISS to the attention of millions.
He took incredible photos. He’s on Facebook. And Twitter. And Tumblr, Google+ and Pinterest. He did a Reddit AMA. He recorded what things sounds like on the ISS. Zen Pencils turned one of his inspiring quotes into a sweet cartoon. Gizmodo said he “made us care about astronauts again.”
He played with Barenaked Ladies — FROM SPACE:
He taught us how to make a sandwich in space…
…and also the all-important skill of how to barf in space.
And as a finale before returning home, he did a revised version of Bowie’s Space Oddity…IN SPACE. And it’s GOOD. Which is all kinds of nerdy and all kinds of awesome.
I’m happy he’s back on the planet safe and sound, but I’m also kinda sad we can’t have him on ISS forever! Either way, I think it’s official:
BEST. ISS. ASTRONAUT. EVER.
It’s been a couple months since I posted a round-up of good spacey stuff, so I’m definitely overdue! Here are some things worth watching:
We’re only a couple weeks away from Mars Science Laboratory’s arrival and landing on Mars! This video does an awesome job of explaining what’s involved in getting to the surface, which is pretty accurately described as “7 minutes of terror.” (This video has a totally different feel and tone than any other NASA-produced video I’ve ever seen — so much so that The New York Times even took notice and wrote an article about it. I really hope the powers-that-be keep this up, as it’s gotten quite a bit of positive attention.)
I seriously cannot get enough of Neil deGrasse Tyson. I’m sure you’ve all seen this one before, but it’s hard to post a space video roundup without something from NdT.
NASA Cribs! This was put together by some of the coops and it’s amusing, especially if you’ve ever watched MTV Cribs. Mike Fincke does a pretty hilarious job of imitating the way rich rappers show off their homes.
SpaceX put together another cool video of highlights from their demo flight in May.
And finally, although it has nothing to do with space, but I defy you to watch the latest “Where the Hell is Matt?” video that made the rounds recently (he even danced with the League City Fire Department!) and not end up with a big smile on your face feeling like there might just be something good about the human race after all.
Time for another roundup of cool space things!
First, another time-lapse video of nighttime time-lapse photography from the ISS. I know, I know, but I can’t get enough of them! The music really makes this one — very dramatic.
NASA just put out this “We Are The Explorers” promo, complete with narration from Optimus Prime. No, really.
Don Pettit, who is currently on the ISS, put together this neat video a few years ago of city lights from space. It’s long-ish, but really interesting to hear his comments on all the different cities. Japanese cities have a distinct blue-green tint, apparently. I never thought about how different types of light would affect a city’s appearance from orbit.
And finally, Stephen Colbert *hearts* NASA and the ISS. (Just in case you didn’t see this when it was released a month or so ago.)
I’ve come across so many spectacular space videos and photos lately that I can’t help but keep sharing them!
(from NASA: 2Explore on Flickr)
This is one more image from the Soyuz 27S landing last Monday night. Earlier, I posted the video of the entry taken from the ISS, but astronaut Dan Burbank posted this pretty incredible still photo yesterday to his Twitter account. You can see the entering Soyuz vehicle as a bright streak in the center of the image, just below the end of the Progress vehicle still docked to ISS. The Black Sea is at the bottom of the image and sunrise is starting to peek over the horizon at the top. Wow.
This video from astronaut Ron Garan, who came home on Soyuz 26S in September, made the Internet rounds last week but I didn’t sit down to watch until last night. You can read more about how he did the time lapses on his Fragile Oasis site, but first I recommend you just sit back and watch the whole thing. The time lapse footage they are getting is just gorgeous, especially the nighttime passes (I love the city lights and the lightning flashes from thunderstorms) and the auroras.
On Saturday morning, the Mars Science Laboratory — a spacecraft carrying a rover the size of a Mini Cooper — launched from Florida. It should arrive at Mars next August. Planetary missions are always exciting. Some part of my brain feels like the stakes are higher since the destination is so far away, although that makes no logical sense, since there aren’t people onboard. This video shows the separation of the spacecraft from the upper stage rocket that provided the thrust to get out of Earth orbit. Super cool! That’s the final step of what I’ll call the launch and departure sequence. (I don’t know if there is an official name for it.)
As if live video of the spacecraft separation wasn’t enough, astronomers in Australia spotted MSL later that day as it began its journey to Mars. It looked almost like a comet — really strange! The plume is assumed to be particles from the burn that took the spacecraft out of Earth orbit and on its interplanetary trajectory.
When MSL gets to Mars next August, it will land using a new system called the Skycrane. It sounds, and LOOKS, pretty crazy — but there were several factors that drove the engineering team to design the system. The Scientific American blog has a really good overview of Mars entry, descent and landing (EDL) systems and how the Skycrane came to be, if you’re interested.
Soyuz 27S landed last night smack in the middle of the Kazakhstan winter. The temperature was in the single digits, with a wind chill of -20. Welcome back to Earth, guys!
They landed about a half hour before sunrise, which is usually not done since NASA’s generic ground rules and constraints dictate that Soyuz landings happen between sunrise and sunset. But with the launch manifest a little wonky due to the impacts of the Progress failure in August, this flight ended up staying in orbit about a week longer than they were originally scheduled to avoid decrewing the ISS and provide enough time for the returning crew to hand over to the crew that just arrived last Tuesday. Delaying a week meant that they would now land just before sunrise — so the ISS Program actually had to sign a waiver allowing them to break those ground rules for this specific case.
(Don’t worry, they made sure it was ok before signing the waiver willy nilly.)
Reentering in darkness and landing in twilight resulted in some pretty cool videos and photos that you don’t get when they land during the day. First of all, the ISS crew was able to set up a camera on the station to record part of the entry. That’s the first thing you see in this video:
SO COOL, right? As you watch, you can see the plasma trail separate into a couple different blobs. The forward bright spot is the descent module, and the bright spot behind it is the orbital module and instrumentation module burning up (by design) in the atmosphere. The descent module does generate some lift since it’s a controlled entry, so it flies a bit farther downrange.
One of NASA’s staff photographers also got some great shots. I love the one above. You can see the Soyuz parachute lying on the ground, and the capsule is visible to the right as a small black dot. The larger black “splotch” is where the capsule originally landed — the retrorockets that fire just before impact scorched the ground. I love the headlights of all the recovery and search-and-rescue vehicles, and how they’re circling the capsule.
This shot of the capsule as the recovery guys prepare to get the crew out is also really cool. You can see how cold it was from how bundled up all of the recovery guys are, and I love that the helicopter in the background is just landing. The large round opening that you can see directly into is the parachute compartment. The hatch is actually on the side — well, really it’s on the top, but the vehicle landed on its side. I read somewhere that Mike Fossum had previously said that he didn’t think landing on their side would be too awful, since at least you then wouldn’t have to hoist yourself up through the hatch above your head.
It was a nice landing and I’m happy that 27S is home safely!
The space station crews have really stepped up their game lately and are making all sorts of fun photos and videos during their downtime on orbit. Here are two of my recent favorites:
Although you always hear that space is a vacuum, technically there is still a tiny bit of atmosphere up where the ISS is — enough that over time, the drag would eventually slow the station down enough that it would fall back to Earth. To counteract that, the ISS periodically performs a reboost burn. During the burn, the station is accelerating…but the occupants inside are not. If you don’t hold onto anything, you’ll drift backwards. Or rather, the ISS will speed up but you don’t. Looks like the crew had some fun demonstrating that in the video above.
Last Sunday morning, one of the Russian Progress supply ships undocked from the space station and deorbited. Since it’s just full of trash at that point, it burns up in the atmosphere on its way down. Astronaut Mike Fossum captured a great photo of the fiery reentry — as seen from orbit!
On Tuesday, the International Space Station celebrated 10 years of continuous manned presence in space. 10 years! Pretty amazing. As a shuttle person, I’ve been guilty of mostly ignoring the ISS. It doesn’t go up and down, there’s no fire and smoke and noise. In the rendezvous world, we think of the ISS as just one big docking target, and jokingly refer to undocking as “jettisoning the ISS payload.” But as I transition into my new job for the next year, I’m having to learn a lot about the ISS, and I’m viewing it in a whole new light. It’s an amazing vehicle in its own right.
At the moment, I’m twiddling my thumbs as I wait for STS-133 to get off the launch pad. (I’m not literally twiddling my thumbs, but you get the idea.) As the launch continues to slip in maddening 24-hour increments, I’m starting to realize how lucky I am to have seen a launch each time I’ve tried. I saw STS-86 in September 1997 with a huge group of co-ops, STS-91 in June 1998 with two of my good co-op friends, and of course STS-130 back in February with my family. Three trips to KSC = three launches.
I’m crossing all my fingers and toes for good launch weather tomorrow afternoon in Florida!