STS-131 MISSION (DISCOVERY)

Any use of one of these images other than strictly private must be subject to prior authorization from legault@astrophoto.fr

This image of the space shuttle Discovery (orbiter) has been taken from Northern France on April 20th 2010 at 5:37UT, a few hours before its landing in Florida at the end of the STS-131 mission. What we see is the top of the orbiter with the payload bay door opened, and the sunlight comes from back left. Altitude 332 km (206 miles), distance to observer 343 km (213 miles), speed 7.6 km/s (4.7 miles/s), apparent speed at zenith 1.3/s. The length of the orbiter at zenith represents 22 arcsec. With respect to this image, the orbiter flies from left to right, in order to slow down with its main engines before entering the atmosphere (after turnaround in the normal orientation, of course!).

Numerous details are recognizable: the elevons, the  NASA  logo on the left wing (angular diameter: 1.2 arcsec), the orbital maneuvering systems, the payload bay door opened (in four segments), the articulated arm (Canadarm/SRMS), the MPLM module (inside the bay), the airlock, the cockpit windows.

The instrument is a Meade ACF 10 telescope with Lumenera Skynyx L2-2 monochrome video camera (12-bit fits), focal length 4500mm. The mount is a Takahashi EM-400 specially modified to be controlled by joystick (see this page for a more detailed description of the equipment). Processing: combination of 27 raw images, sharpening by wavelets, noise reduction. No other processing has been applied, in order to guarantee maximum realism and veracity of the details (see notes at the end of this page about image processing).

On the images below, taken on April 15th and 16 th during the same mission, Discovery is docked to the ISS (center left) and seen from aft.

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