Sunday, March 30, 2008

ATV closing in on the ISS - follow it in the sky

Yesterday the big Automated Transfer Vehicle approached the ISS in a first of two dress rehearsals to within 3.5 km; later that evening the pair - with the ATV leading the ISS - was photographed and filmed over Europe (another picture and more). From the ISS the ATV was also seen during the demonstration. The day before the two had been flying much farther apart as two movies show. Here are the plans for another demonstration tomorrow (when the ATV will come to within 11 meters of the ISS around 16:45 UTC; the go-ahead came minutes ago) and docking on Thursday at 14:41 UTC. You can follow the action via an ESA blog and see where the ATV and ISS are right now. Weather permitting there are one or two nicely lit overflights for Europe every evening in the coming days as Heavens Above tells us.

In other news two satellite fuel tanks apparently survived reentry and were found in recent days, one in Australia and one in Brazil. • The three sunspot groups from the old cycle are now near the middle of the disk: a white light and an H-Alpha view (another one) of March 29 and a white light/H-Alpha blinking image and a calcium view of March 28. • An old impact crater may have been found in the U.K. • Yesterday's Earth Hour was followed in some places and could even inspire some stargazing - and caused controversy in Oz. • And here is an unusual panorama of a halo.

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