I Didn’t Know We Had Warp-Capable Resupply Ships ...

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 30 2014 11:57 AM

Two Days Previously

cygnus_unberthed

Heh. What was the view like two days before the video I posted this morning?

This:

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So. COOL.

That's the Orbital Sciences Corporation's Cygnus resupply ship (the Janice Voss) at the end of the space station's Canadarm 2, then leaving in a hurry in this time-lapse video taken on Aug. 15, 2014. The resupply ship brought well over a ton of supplies to the astronauts, and had been reloaded with trash. It was unberthed by the remotely controlled arm (operated by Alex Gerst on the ISS), then commanded to head off. Two days later, it burned up re-entering Earth's atmosphere.

Watching this video I noticed a peculiar thing: It appears to go up, away from the Earth, instead of down toward it. I suspect this is at least partly due to the pictures being taken with a wide-angle lens, which distorts the image; for example, the Earth isn't nearly that curved when seen from ISS. However, the ship didn't burn up until two days later, so it's likely it wasn't sent immediately into a de-orbiting path, so it may have just moved ahead of ISS for a while before dropping down. Things like this can be difficult to track down, so I'll see what I can do to get more info. 

In the meantime, the video is mesmerizing, isn't it?

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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