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NASA Space Science

Atlantis' Final Reentry Over Cancun, Mexico 26

astroengine writes "Once again, videographer Noe Castillo has captured space shuttle history through his camera lens. On June 1, 2011, he witnessed the final reentry of space shuttle Endeavour. Now he's released a video via his YouTube account showing the final reentry of Atlantis... and the final reentry of any space shuttle." Many other cameras were trained on Atlantis yesterday, including one from the ISS, which captured the re-entry from the other side. Thierry Legault caught Atlantis transiting the sun for the last time, and NASA has pictures and video of the landing.
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Atlantis' Final Reentry Over Cancun, Mexico

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  • Another angle (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Friday July 22, 2011 @02:40PM (#36849428) Homepage Journal

    I was at the landing and got another angle here: []

    • by Jon Abbott ( 723 )

      Thanks for posting your photo (and for including the EXIF data). I was curious what kind of camera settings were needed to achieve a successful night shot of the shuttle. I also looked at NASA's Atlantis landing photos from Chad Baumer but his photos did not include any camera settings in EXIF.

      I'm surprised you were able to get such a good shot at 1/20s -- were you using Mode-2/panning IS with your 70-200? Also, were you shooting handheld or with a tripod? If you were shooting with a tripod, what type o

      • by BWJones ( 18351 ) *

        Yeah, I was panning in mode 2 on the lens, handheld with autofocus which is actually pretty good on the 1DMkIV.

        Chad was closer with a faster, fixed focal length lens which let him use a lower ISO. The NASA guys get up close leaving the media folks and others far away.

        Yes, indeed. Do let me know if you come out for Speed Week.

        • by Jon Abbott ( 723 )

          Good to know, thanks. One of my fondest memories of Atlantis was after it had undocked from the ISS during STS-129 (November 25, 2009). I just happened to step outside at the right moment to see both bright white dots moving across the sky next to each other.

  • Sonic booms (Score:4, Interesting)

    by quacking duck ( 607555 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @02:55PM (#36849666)

    The video link jumps to about 9 minutes in, just before touchdown. Suggest viewers jump back to about the 6:00 minute mark, the announcer says they're 3 minutes from touchdown and then you hear the twin sonic booms indicating Atlantis has gone subsonic. They're incredibly sharp and clear-sounding in this video, even through my laptop speakers, and reverberate like canon blasts for several seconds.

    • Re:Sonic booms (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:01PM (#36849750) Homepage Journal

      Those sonic booms were the loudest, sharpest and most clear of any I've ever heard in my life. This is due to the Shuttle being so big and having 1) a large vertical stabilizer (sonic boom) and 2) large wing surfaces (sonic boom). There is apparently a 3rd sonic boom that is sandwiched in there somewhere, but its difficult to distinguish.

    • sonic booms indicating Atlantis has gone subsonic.

      Do they? AIU, the sonic boom is generated as long as the aircraft is supersonic. So the booms recorded on the video merely indicate that Atlantis was supersonic at some point close enough to the camera. The point where speed drops below Mach 1 cannot be determined from that.

      • I never said that was the exact moment it actually went subsonic. By the time we hear it of course the shuttle has already been subsonic for probably a minute or two, but it does "announce" (that's the word the commentators often use) that it happened, because the sound waves from the boom are now moving ahead of the flightpath faster than the shuttle itself.

        I prefer not to get too pedantic over it, it's like arguing whether a stellar event is happening "now" just because its light took awhile to get here.

    • by pz ( 113803 )

      They are indeed very sharp and clear in the video, almost like two gun shots in rapid fire. But my lay understanding about sonic booms, the announcer's narrative notwithstanding, is that they do not accompany the transition from super- to sub-sonic flight, but rather, accompany essentially all super-sonic flight, and exactly when you hear the boom depends on your geometrical relation to the aircraft, its speed, altitude, etc. See the Wikipedia entry: []

      • Yes, but please my reply above--it still marks the moment (though a minute or two in the past, by the time we hear it) that it's gone subsonic because the sound from the booms are, from that moment on, travelling faster than the shuttle toward the landing area.

        • by pz ( 113803 )

          Only if the recording microphone happened to be in exactly the right spot. Otherwise, it's entirely unrelated to the boom. Sonic booms don't happen when aircraft are moving sub-sonically, so without additional information about the exact location of the microphone and careful crafting of its position relative to the aircraft, it's far safer to assume that the aircraft is still flying super-sonic if you hear a boom. To state that it marks the transition from super-sonic to sub-sonic travel is misleading be

  • The video shot by Castillo highlights a problem that occurs when you shoot video with the sky as its background, or in the dark: you have no reference frame for the movement of the camera, so it becomes difficult to judge what you're seeing. Case in point: in this video, the camera zooms in and then pans along the flightpath, making it look like the Shuttle changes speed.

    The same problem happens in e.g. video of an airplane doing aerobatics: you can't separate the movement of the airplane from the movement

    • by city ( 1189205 )
      Good news is there's plenty of time to get this product to market in time for the next shuttle launch!
  • As poorly conceived and designed as the shuttle was, it nevertheless stands as an icon and symbol for a generation. I doubt there will be, in the near future, anything that so eminently symbolizes the drive for humans to expand beyond the limits of our own environment, nor anything that can so easily capture the imagination. A spaceplane might be a bad idea in practice: but as a symbol, it is pretty well unbeatable. When people think of spaceflight, they don't think of Saturn rockets or the Apollo landers,

    • They think of the Shuttle orbiter and its massive fuel tank and rocket boosters

      In the early '80s (1983?), space shuttle Enterprise made a visit to Europe on the back of a 747. I was around 10 at the time and went with my parents to the beach where it flew along the coast of The Netherlands. Although I clearly remember the shuttle's first space flight from tv, it's the image of the shuttle on the jumbo what's made the biggest impression on me.

      However, the Saturn V rocket is the symbol of spaceflight to me, because of Apollo 11 of course but also because the shuttle looks so much like a

  • [] is currently still showing 10 people in space.

    Maybe they should register

    • Presumably it will be a long time before that thing reaches 10 again. you figure 6 people in ISS and a possible 3 on a Soyuz.

      • by tsotha ( 720379 )
        For some values of "long time". Supposedly SpaceX is going to have the Dragon ready in 2014. Same crew capacity as the shuttle.
        • Wow I didn't know Dragon would be putting 7 up at a time. I had assumed it would be 3. That is going to be pretty damn awesome.

  • What is the circular explosion looking thing that happens around 2:20-2:25?

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"