Saturday, April 5, 2008

ATV Docks With The ISS

I was so lucky to be able to get the above image Wednesday April 2nd. the night before the International Space Station and the Automated Transfer Vehicle docked. Very cool to see the little ATV follow behind the big bright ISS the length of the sky, like a baby duckling following it's mother, very cute, I mean not kitten playing with a ball of string cute, but space cute. Cute isn't word I throw around lightly on this blog, this blog is about space stuff, space is one of the harshest environments known to humankind, not cute.

The ATV docked with the ISS Thursday April 3rd at 10:45 am EDT. The Automated Transfer Vehicle, Jules Verne, named after the science fiction writer carries important cargo to the station such as water, scientific equipment, oxygen, nitrogen and propellant. Jules Verne will be docked with the ISS for 6 months allowing the crew to unload it's cargo then reload the vehicle with the station's waste products. Just before the ATV leaves it will fire it's thrusters to push the ISS into a higher orbit, detach and then fire it's thrusters once again to put it into a de-orbit for a controlled destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean. The docking procedure was fully automated, the ATV is guided by lasers, that's right lasers to guide it to the docking port, anything that uses lasers to guide it is too cool. I get so excited when I talk about stuff like the ATV, Shuttle and the ISS, people we have different countries working together for a common good to do hard science, so that instead of flying by the stars of the Big Dipper so to speak, we can one day fly to.

Jules Verne is the first of at least seven ATVs planned for the ISS. The ATV was developed by the European Space Agency over 10 years at a cost of 1.9 billion dollars for an exchange of astronaut slots in the upcoming ISS crews. The ATV class cargo ship can carry up to 3 times the amount of payload as the current station service vehicles the Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft.

Get ready for a beautiful conjunction/occultation of the crescent Moon complete with earthshine and the Pleiades star cluster this coming Tuesday April 8th. Look to the west just after Sunset for the stunning gathering, hopefully I'll have clear skies to take some pics. I'll leave you now with a clip I put together of the ATV following the ISS the night of April 2nd.


Sherer said...

Yes the first to comment! Looking forward to the moon pictures on the 8th. Ever done any eclipse chasing Bob?

Andrew said...

The other night when we actually had clear skies I got to watch Jules Verne and ISS flying in tandom.It was a amazing sight!!

Bob Johnson said...

Hey sherer, no, would love to chase a solar eclipse, unfortunately the cost is too high, usually the solar eclipses happen in far off places, like the Artic or Egypt, this year a narrow path starts in Nunavut then Northern Russia, Mongolia and China. Hopefully get a clear evening Tuesday to take some pics of the conjunction.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Andrew, that would have been cool.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Bob, I can't BELIEVE you captured that first shot, but then again, YES, I can!!! AMAZING!!!

If I were in the space station I would love the ATV attached for privacy. :D

Super post!!!

Hugs, JJ

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Bob,
What a cute article. I mean, in a teaching and technical sort of cute way. You never cease to amaze me with the amount of knowledge you have about space exploration and astronomy. I turned one of my friends on to your blog and he loves it. If you see multiple visits to your blog in your website stats from optonline, that's my buddy and me and most likely his wife visiting Blackholes & Astrostuff too. They love websites such as yours. I've told others at my job about your work here and they were impressed when I showed them as well. Thanks for the knowledge, Bob. I look forward to more. -Mike

Kristyn said...

That really is very neat!! I tell you though, the thought of people living in space on that station makes me a little freaked out, then again, I can't take a three hour flight without getting totally freaked out.

Your pictures, though, are very cool!! You get some really great shots!

Peter said...

Hi! Now that's way cool!! Why is one line brighter than the other? I suppose it must have something to do with their sizes. Now, for automated dockings. I know with anything complicated, things can go wrong. What would they do, if something went wrong?

Julie at Virtual Nexus said...

Interesting stuff. Random, but we had a meal some time ago with someone who
is involved with Eurisy (links with the European Space Agency?)

Max-e said...

Hi Bob, sounds that it was quite intersting. Would have loved to have seen it.
My first siting of man made objects orbiting the earth was Sputnik. I was a little nipper at the time and remember how everyone in the neighbourhood was in their gardens one night staring skywards, waiting for a glimpse of it. When it did arrive, I was didappointed - I too young to realise that it was history in the making.

Drowsey Monkey said...

That is amazing! I have all the same questions a Peter, lol.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JJ, lol privacy with the ATV, they will need it, they usually only have 3 person crews on the station,they are upping that number to 6 later this year,

Bob Johnson said...

lol that was cute Mike, thanks for telling everyone about blackholes, very much appreciated!!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Kristyn, glad you like the pics, and I know what you mean, I hate planes I am really afraid to fly, but to be in space I could put up with a visit to the station, but to be up there for months at a time, no way, need open spaces.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Peter, you are right because the station is quite a bit larger it has more surface area to reflect sunlight back to us, therefore brighter then the little ATV. The space station crew have a preprogrammed software package, they just push a couple buttons so to speak and the docking proceedure is aborted, in fact earlier that week they had the ATV within a few meters of them to test the system, it worked, then they sent the little ATV back into a parking orbit 2000 miles or so away.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Julie that sounds too cool, you know someone who is involved with the ESA, do you know in what capacity?

Bob Johnson said...

So true I remember all about Sputnik, try to look for it with my little telescope my Dad got for me,lol, never did find it.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey drowsey, like I said to Peter they have an escape/abort button, just incase something does go wrong, to make sure it worked they called the little guy in for testing and it worked, sent him back out 2,000 miles into a parking orbit, 2,000 miles is a parking orbit,lol, I guess when you are travelling at around 17,000 miles an hour 2,000 miles is only a hop, skip and a jump away.

Franx said...

Wow technology is so helpful for astrology...we can make prediction for solar eclipse...Great post as usual Bon

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Franx, it really is amazing the things we can predict now a days.

Roger said...

That is so awesome Bob! Your a very talented person!!

Marvin the Martian said...

Very cool, Bob! I sure miss the NASA Channel (I switched back to analog cable just because digital is a royal PITA). Your blog makes NASA Channel look like a bunch of C-SPAN interns.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Roger thanks for the great compliment!

Bob Johnson said...

Lol thanks marvin, you can still get the NASA TV on the net from their website, I think you can actually get a widget for your desktop or web site if you want as long as you have internet access.

Anonymous said...

I'm back!
Too cool Bob. Love the shot. You should get a tracking device to hook up to your camera. I have no idea on the cost mind you. That way you can punch in the RA and Dec of the object and the tracking speed and voila, you'd get a stationary image. We used to have them on our camera when I worked in the National Defense Satellite and Identification Unit many moons ago (excuse the pun). I will say that your exposure is totally excellent. Well done.
And as always a great and informative article. But then you knew that didn't you. All these comments can attest to that. On that note, take care my friend.

Swubird said...


Love the write up - very well written and very informative. The pictures were great also - cool that you caught the momma duck and her duckling together. The video was neat also. All around excellent post.

Happy stargazing.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Bob, you have to come and see what I found last weekend!!!

Hugs, JJ

Bob Johnson said...

lol, thanks JD,I have the technology, I will be able once I figure out how to , upload through my computer to my scope the most current up to date coordinates for any satellite or ISS to track it with my scope, therefore one day take an actual image of the station.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi and thanks swubird, hopefully get a good pic of the conjunction for the next post, so far clear skies are forecast.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey JJ great pic and post, thanks for thinking of me!! \m/ \m/

Anna said...

Bob cool stuff, did not know much about ATV docks and ISS - how cute, lol. When we were driving home last night, we noticed the crescent moon, it was cool. If we get clear skies I will look for the conjunction/occultation of the crescent Moon complete with earthshine (I think I saw that already yesterday) and the Pleiades star cluster today. Thanks for the heads up. Anna :) \m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anna, that's right you saw the Moon and earthshine lastnight, I got a few pics of that, tonight is the main event, conjuncting with the Pleiades, we have clear skies so far, maybe able to get some cool images.

Will said...

Went out and looked for the conjunction, but it is cloudy. Oh well! That is an amazing shot showing the two space vehicles. Hard to believe it is real. I guess you needed to know when and where to look, and then recognize what you were seeing.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey thanks Will, too bad you missed the conjunction, was quite stunning.

Livingsword said...

Hi Bob;


Do you mean Parvati/Kitten cute? LOL

Excellent imagery Bob….cute like a tribble? (just added tribble to my Word dictionary, honestly what words do they actually include in that thing? Nothing sci-fi and I have to say it is very poor theologically!) LOL

Water is very important here but in space one must be so careful, you never know if the Cylons are going to try and damage the water supply…

Laser docking is very cool…”make it so”….

Now my Honda Fit can fit much more than that and is far cheaper…I’m willing to lend it for a seat on an upcoming mission….

Wow there was a lot of action I missed on the 8th! That’s what I get for falling behind on my visits! Bad Livingsword bad! *wrist slap*

Oh I am getting the classic this video no longer available line, this happens to me sometimes with Survivor, lets see if a refresh works…Yes it worked, usually does. Cool looked so much like phasers Bob…

Swubird said...

Hey Bob:

A few nights ago I saw what appeared to be a planet in close proximity to the moon. IT was about nine in the evening. Was I right, or was it just another star?

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