STS-131 MISSION (DISCOVERY)
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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!).
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.
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.