PetaPixel

Space Shuttle Atlantis Re-entering the Atmosphere for the Last Time

As Space Shuttle Atlantis left the International Space Station to head back to Earth for the final time, one of the astronauts on the ISS captured this beautiful image of the shuttle’s glowing re-entry. Any guesses for what shutter speed this was shot at?

Station Crew Views Shuttle Landing (via Popular Science)


Update: Someone from the Photo Operations Group at the Johnson Space Center was kind enough to leave a comment with the answer: 1.6 seconds, f/2.8 at an ISO of 10000.


 
 
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1761680486 Bill Stone

    1/500

  • http://twitter.com/radgeness Radgeness ✓

    4 seconds

  • Sedg

    10 sec on a very high ISO

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.e.greer Joey Greer

    According to my (very amateur) calculations, based on the speed of the space shuttle during re-entry and the speed of the ISS, the arc of the streak (which I estimated to be around 30°), the circumference of the Earth, the exposure seems to be about 3-4 minutes long, assuming the shuttle and ISS are traveling in opposite directions, which they very well may be not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.e.greer Joey Greer

    According to my (very amateur) calculations, based on the speed of the space shuttle during re-entry and the speed of the ISS, the arc of the streak (which I estimated to be around 30°), the circumference of the Earth, the exposure seems to be about 3-4 minutes long, assuming the shuttle and ISS are traveling in opposite directions, which they very well may be not.

  • http://www.flickr.com/avaviel Avaviel

    Four years.

    And then, in the perfect moment, the shroud was removed from the camera.

  • http://www.flickr.com/avaviel Avaviel

    Four years.

    And then, in the perfect moment, the shroud was removed from the camera.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.e.greer Joey Greer

    Having read the article and comments around this photo on PopSci (and watching a few YouTube videos,) I learned that the Shuttle indeed leaves a very bright, very long-lasting plasma trail, which is more than likely what is seen in this photo.

    Because the clouds and stars are hardly blurred at all, even though the ISS orbits at an average speed of just over 17,000 MPH (Wiki), it would stand to reason that the exposure was actually relatively short.

    Once again, based solely on my amateur calculations (which we now all know mean squat), I’d hazard an exposure of 15 seconds.

  • http://profiles.google.com/lwliam William Leong

    whats the answer?

  • http://twitter.com/zenologueblog Photo Business Blog

    That’s a truly beautiful image that evokes a lot of emotion about the end of the Space Shuttle program. What an amazing experience it must have been to be able to see this from the vantage point of Earth orbit… hard to guess at the exposure, but I’m thinking it was quite short since the stars are perfect points, and there is little blurring. My guess would be 2-3 seconds at most.

  • http://twitter.com/RedNovember82 Colleen S

    I haven’t a clue, but would like to have taken the shot! AWESOME!!

  • Bob

    So my question is…if the space shuttle is re-entering the earths atmosphere for the last time…and this was shot by an astronaut in the space station….who is going to to back and get the astronaut who is still in the space station????

  • http://facebook.com/swiftmed Andrew MacDonald

    The russians are taking over ferrying astronauts too and from the ISS. The private sector are also being brought in to take over some of the transfer of astronauts too. 

  • That was my foot.

    1.6 seconds, f/2.8 at an ISO of 10000

  • That was my foot.

    Forgot to add, I work in the Photo Operations Group at JSC. Very exciting to see these images come through.

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    Hey, so did you post the actual settings for the photo, or was that just an educated guess? :)

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    Hey, so did you post the actual settings for the photo, or was that just an educated guess? :)

  • That was my foot.

    Those are the actual settings. Our group handles all the imagery downlinked from Shuttle and Station. 

  • JasonP

    The person to ask then…  As a matter of personal interest, why does NASA seem as a policy, to strip EXIF data from images it posts?  I would have thought as a historical document it would be better to maintain the data with the photo once it’s “out in the wild” so to speak.

  • JasonP

    The person to ask then…  As a matter of personal interest, why does NASA seem as a policy, to strip EXIF data from images it posts?  I would have thought as a historical document it would be better to maintain the data with the photo once it’s “out in the wild” so to speak.

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