Thomas Pesquet shares his thoughts about being aboard the ISS now that he’s been there for a few days.
The Orbital Cygnus spacecraft departed the International Space Station yesterday morning when it was released from the Candadarm2 robotic arm by Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of ESA.
In the normal course of events the Cygnus would deorbit until it interfaced with and burned up in the atmosphere. Not this time around though, Cygnus has a couple of other missions to accomplish before its particular re-entry.
Shortly after departure from the ISS and when the craft is at a safe distance away, mission controllers will set nine sample swatches from different materials used in space on fire in the second of three fire safety experiments. The experiment called (in this case) Saffire-2 has already occurred and we might get a look as data, including images have been returned. The first Saffire experiment took place this past October and a third experiment is scheduled.
Cygnus will release four LEMUR CubeSats from an external deployer on Friday, Nov. 25, sending them to join a remote sensing satellite constellation that provides global ship tracking and weather monitoring.
A busy week in space.
This morning there will be a spacewalk outside the International Space Station to install a new docking port delivered on a previous cargo mission by the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship.
The new port is necessary for the Americans to send astronauts to the station from their own soil, something that has not happened since the end of the Space Shuttle program.
The EVA begins at 12:05 UTC with coverage starting at 10:30 UTC. Below you should find a live stream so you can follow along.
How fluids behave in space. Space Coffee Cup and Capillary Flow Driven Fluids in space.
Pretty cool, two cargo ships, Progress and Dragon, in orbit at the same time en route to the ISS.
After the docking the new crew – Expedition 48-49 Soyuz Commander Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Takuya Onishi of JAXA are welcomed aboard the ISS by station Commander Jeff Williams of NASA, and Flight Engineers Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos:
The flight to the station was a big success for the new Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft – congrats!
In case you missed it here is an interview with Tim Peake’s the day after his return to Earth.
Noctilucent clouds are beautiful and strange at the same time. You can indeed see them from the ground and are a welcome site.
This image was taken on 29 May 2016 by Tim Peake aboard the ISS:
The NASA Image of the Day caption:
Expedition 47 Flight Engineer Tim Peake of the European Space Agency photographed rare, high-altitude noctilucent or “night shining” clouds from the International Space Station on May 29, 2016.
Polar mesospheric clouds — also known as noctilucent clouds – form between 76 to 85 kilometers (47 to 53 miles) above the Earth’s surface, near the boundary of the mesosphere and thermosphere, a region known as the mesopause. At these altitudes, water vapor can freeze into clouds of ice crystals. When the sun is below the horizon and the ground is in darkness, these high clouds may still be illuminated, lending them their ethereal, “night shining” qualities.
In the late spring and summer, unusual clouds form high in the atmosphere above the polar regions of the world. As the lower atmosphere warms, the upper atmosphere gets cooler, and ice crystals form on meteor dust and other particles high in the sky. The result is noctilucent or “night-shining” clouds — electric blue wisps that grow on the edge of space. Polar mesospheric clouds can be observed from both the Earth’s surface and in orbit by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Image Credit: ESA/NASA
This is a remarkable image! I have tried on numerous occasions to get an image of the International Space Station as it passes over the disk of the Sun, something always goes wrong. It is a VERY difficult endeavor with so many variables.
Then there is a master at the craft of astrophotography: Thierry Legault. Not only did he capture the ISS, he did it during the transit of Mercury!
This from ESA (be sure to watch the video linked below):
On 9 May Mercury passed in front of the Sun as seen from Earth. These transits of Mercury occur only around 13 times every century, so astronomers all over Earth were eager to capture the event.
For astrophotographer Thierry Legault, capturing Mercury and the Sun alone was not enough, however – he wanted the International Space Station in the frame as well.
To catch the Station passing across the Sun, you need to set up your equipment within a ground track less than 3 km wide. For Thierry, this meant flying to the USA from his home near Paris, France.
On 9 May there were three possible areas to capture the Station and Mercury at the same time against the solar disc: Quebec, Canada, the Great Lakes and Florida, USA.
Choosing the right spot took considerable effort, says Thierry: “Canada had bad weather predicted and around Florida I couldn’t find a suitably quiet but public place, so I went to the suburbs of Philadelphia.”
With 45 kg of equipment, Thierry flew to New York and drove two hours to Philadelphia to scout the best spot. Even then, all the preparations and intercontinental travel could have been for nothing because the Station crosses the Sun in less than a second and any clouds could have ruined the shot.
“I was very lucky: 10 minutes after I took the photos, clouds covered the sky,” says a relieved Thierry.
“Adrenaline flows in the moments before the Station flies by – it is a one-shot chance. I cannot ask the space agencies to turn around so I can try again. Anything can happen.”
The hard work and luck paid off. The image here includes frames superimposed on each other to show the Station’s path. Mercury appears as a black dot at bottom-centre of the Sun.
For Thierry, the preparation and the hunt for the perfect shot is the best part.
“Astrophotography is my hobby that I spend many hours on, but even without a camera I encourage everybody to look up at the night sky. The International Space Station can be seen quite often and there are many more things to see. It is just a case of looking up at the right time.”
Visit Thierry’s homepage here: http://www.astrophoto.fr/
Image and caption: Thierry Legault and ESA