FOLLOW ME.......... T.Q


Ahad, 17 Oktober 2010


The gibbous phase of Jupiter's moon Europa. The robot spacecraft Galileo captured this image mosaic during its mission orbiting Jupiter from 1995 - 2003. Evidence and images from the Galileo spacecraft, indicated that liquid oceans might exist below the icy surface.

Jupiter is in the news again, this time because its "Baby Red Spot" - a storm less than a year old - appears to have been swallowed up by the massive storm known as the Great Red Spot. This is good occasion to share some of the best photographs of Jupiter and its larger system of rings and moons, as seen by various probes and telescopes over the past 30 years.

Jupiter's moon Io floats above the cloudtops of Jupiter in this image captured January 1, 2001. The image is deceiving: there are 350,000 kilometers - roughly 2.5 Jupiters - between Io and Jupiter's clouds. Io is about the size of our own moon

This image of Jupiter's moon Europa rising above Jupiter was captured by the New Horizons spacecraft in February just after it passed Jupiter on its way to Pluto and the outer Solar System.

This view of the icy surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa, is a mosaic of two pictures taken by the Solid State Imaging system on board the Galileo spacecraft during a close flyby of Europa on February 20, 1997. The area shown is about 14 kilometers by 17 kilometers (8.7 miles by 10.6 miles), and has a resolution of 20 meters (22 yards) per pixel. One of the youngest features seen in this area is the double ridge cutting across the picture from the lower left to the upper right. This double ridge is about 2.6 kilometers (1.6 miles) wide and stands some 300 meters (330 yards) high.

A composite of several images taken in several colors by the New Horizons Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera, or MVIC, illustrating the diversity of structures in Jupiter's atmosphere, in colors similar to what someone "riding" on New Horizons would see. It was taken near the terminator, the boundary between day and night, and shows relatively small-scale, turbulent, whirlpool-like structures near the south pole of the planet. The dark "holes" in this region are actually places where there is very little cloud cover, so sunlight is not reflected back to the camera.

This image, acquired during Galileo's ninth orbit around Jupiter, shows two volcanic plumes on Io. One plume was captured on the bright limb or edge of the moon, erupting over a caldera (volcanic depression) named Pillan Patera. The plume seen by Galileo is 140 kilometers (86 miles) high, and was also detected by the Hubble Space Telescope. The second plume, seen near the terminator, the boundary between day and night, is called Prometheus. The shadow of the airborne plume can be seen extending to the right of the eruption vent.

A part of the southern hemisphere of Io, seen by the spacecraft Voyager at a range of 74,675 km. In the foreground is gently undulating topography, while in the back-ground are two mountains with their near faces brightly illuminated by the sun. The mountain in the right is approximately 150 km across at its base and its height is probably in excess of 15 km which would make it higher than any mountain on Earth.

A volcanic plume rises over 300 kilometers above the horizon of Jupiter's moon Io in this image from cameras onboard the New Horizons spacecraft. The volcano, Tvashtar, is marked by the bright glow (about 1 o'clock) at the moon's edge, beyond the terminator or night/day shadow line. The shadow of Io cuts across the plume itself. Also capturing stunning details on the dayside surface, the high resolution image was recorded when the spacecraft was 2.3 million kilometers from Io. Later it was combined with lower resolution color data by astro-imager Sean Walker to produce this sharp portrait of the solar system's most active moon.

Jupiter's moon Io, seen by NASA's Galileo spacecraft against a backdrop of Jupiter's cloud tops, which appear blue in this false-color composite.

A mosaic of Jupiter's ring system, acquired by NASA's Galileo spacecraft when the Sun was behind the planet, and the spacecraft was in Jupiter's shadow peering back toward the Sun.

The first color movie of Jupiter from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows what it would look like to peel the entire globe of Jupiter, stretch it out on a wall into the form of a rectangular map, and watch its atmosphere evolve with time. The brief movie clip spans 24 Jupiter rotations between Oct. 31 and Nov. 9, 2000. The darker blips that appear are several moons and their shadows.

An image of the leading hemisphere of Ganymede seen by NASA's Galileo spacecraft. Many fragmented regions of dark terrain split by lanes of bright grooved terrain cover the surface. Several bright young craters can be seen, including a linear chain of craters near the center of the image which may have resulted from the impact of a fragmented comet, similar to comet Shoemaker-Levy/9 which hit Jupiter in 1994.

The area of Nicholson Regio and Arbela Sulcus illustrates many of the diverse terrain types on Jupiter's moon Ganymede, as seen in this image taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft. The image covers an area approximately 89 by 26 kilometers (55by 16 miles).

Jupiter's Great Red seen by NASA's Voyager spacecraft. July, 1979 Around the northern boundary a white cloud is seen, which extends to east of the region. The presence of this cloud prevents small cloud vortices from circling the spot in the manner seen in the Voyager 1 encounter. Another white oval cloud (different from the one present in this position three months ago) is seen south of the Great Red Spot. This image was taken on July 6, 1979 from a range of 2,633,003 kilometers. The Red Spot is 20,000 km across

This true color mosaic of Jupiter was constructed from images taken by the narrow angle camera onboard NASA's Cassini spacecraft on December 29, 2000, as the spacecraft neared Jupiter during its flyby of the giant planet. It is the most detailed global color portrait of Jupiter ever produced. Although Cassini's camera can see more colors than humans can, Jupiter here looks the way that the human eye would see it.

NASA's STEREO satellite captured the first images ever of a collision between a solar "hurricane", called a coronal mass ejection (CME), and a comet on April 4, 2007. The collision caused the complete detachment of the comet's plasma tail. Comets are icy leftovers from the solar system's formation billions of years ago. They usually hang out in the cold, distant regions of the solar system, but occasionally a gravitational tug from a planet, another comet, or even a nearby star sends them into the inner solar system. Once there, the sun's heat and radiation vaporizes gas and dust from the comet, forming its tail. Comets typically have two tails, one made of dust and a fainter one made of electrically conducting gas, called plasma.

The Sun is now in the quietest phase of its 11-year activity cycle, the solar minimum - in fact, it has been unusually quiet this year - with over 200 days so far with no observed sunspots. The solar wind has also dropped to its lowest levels in 50 years. Scientists are unsure of the significance of this unusual calm, but are continually monitoring our closest star with an array of telescopes and satellites. Seen below are some recent images of the Sun in more active times.

A sweeping prominence, a huge cloud of relatively cool dense plasma is seen suspended in the Sun's hot, thin corona. At times, promineces can erupt, escaping the Sun's atmosphere. Emission in this spectral line shows the upper chromosphere at a temperature of about 60,000 degrees K (over 100,000 degrees F). Every feature in the image traces magnetic field structure. The hottest areas appear almost white, while the darker red areas indicate cooler temperatures.

Detailed closeup of magnetic structures on the Sun's surface, seen in the H-alpha wavelength on August 22, 2003.

Image of an active solar region taken on July 24, 2002 near the eastern limb of the Sun. The image highlights the three-dimensional nature of the photosphere when seen at these large angles. The structures in the dark sunspots in the upper central area of the image show distinct elevation above the dark "floor" of the sunspot. The height of the structures has been estimated by Dr. Bruce Lites of the High Altitude Observatory to be between 200 and 450 km. The smallest resolvable features in the image are about 70 km in size. There are also numerous bright "faculae" visible on the edges of granules that face towards the observer.

The total solar eclipse of February 16, 1980 was photographed from Palem, India, by a research team from the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The photograph of the solar corona was taken with a camera system developed by Gordon A. Newkirk, Jr. This specialized instrument photographs the corona in red light, 6400 A -- through a radially graded filter that suppresses the bright inner corona in order to show the much fainter streamers of the outer corona in the same photograph.

The planet Venus is seen by NASA's TRACE satellite, at the start of its transit across the sun on June 8, 2004.

A view of a sunspot and granules on the Sun's surface, seen in the H-alpha wavelength on August 4, 2003.

Solar flares produce seismic waves in the Sun's interior that closely resemble those created by earthquakes on our planet. On May 27, 1998, researchers observed this flare-generated solar quake that contained about 40,000 times the energy released in the great earthquake that devastated San Francisco in 1906, equivalent to an 11.3 magnitude earthquake, scientists calculated. Over the course of an hour, the solar waves traveled for a distance equal to 10 Earth diameters before fading into the fiery background of the Sun's photosphere. Unlike water ripples that travel outward at a constant velocity, the solar waves accelerated from an initial speed of 22,000 miles per hour to a maximum of 250,000 miles per hour before disappearing.

Hinode (formerly known as Solar-B) successfully captured a massive solar flare on 13 December 2006. It was one of the largest flares occurring in that period of solar activity minimum.

The image shows the corona for a moderately active Sun, with some (red) hot active regions in both hemispheres, surrounded by the (blue/green) cooler plasma of the quiet-Sun corona. Notice also the north polar-crown filament, the trans-equatorial loops, and the coronal hole in the south-east (lower-right) corner of the image and the smaller one over the north pole. This image shows the solar corona in a false-color, 3-layer composite: the blue, green, and red channels show the 171Å, 195Å, and 284Å wavelengths, respectively (most sensitive to emission from 1, 1.5, and 2 million degree gases).

A view of an irregular-shaped sunspot and granules on the Sun's surface, seen on August 22, 2003.

On November 8, 2006, Mercury is seen, beginning a transit in front of the Sun.

This TRACE 171Å-wavelength image from November 11, 2006 shows a sizeable active region at the east limb of the Sun (rotated clockwise 90 degrees so north is to the right) just as it rotates onto Earth-facing hemisphere. Notice the low-lying dark structures of filaments at the leading edge of the region, some "levitating" dark material on the right-hand side of the region, and the small ephemeral region towards the lower right.

The Sun, observed on May 22, 2008. With the Sun persisting in a near-minimal state of activity, only a few small regions of some activity are seen on the disk. The cell-like appearance is formed by the multitude of small clusters of magnetic flux that are collected in the downflow regions of the supergranular network of convective motions.

TRACE 171Å image of an erupting solar filament above Active Region 9077 on July 19, 2000. Filaments are concentrated bundles of magnetic field filled with relatively cool gas, suspended in the solar corona. When they become unstable, they can erupt, triggering coronal mass ejections and solar flares. The dark material here is relatively cool, while the bright material is hotter than a million degrees. As this hot material cools, it condenses and drains down the lines of magnetic field in the corona much like beads moving along a wire, a process some scientists refer to as "coronal rain."

This LASCO C2 image, taken 8 January 2002, shows a widely spreading coronal mass ejection (CME) as it blasts more than a billion tons of matter out into space at millions of kilometers per hour. The C2 image was turned 90 degrees so that the blast seems to be pointing down. An EIT 304 Angstrom image from a different day was enlarged and superimposed on the C2 image so that it filled the occulting disk for effect

Detailed closeup of magnetic structures on the Sun's surface, seen in the H-alpha wavelength on August 22, 2003.

NASA's STEREO (Ahead) spacecraft observed this visually stunning prominence eruption on Sept. 29, 2008 in the 304 wavelength of extreme UV light. It rose up and cascaded to the right over several hours, appearing something like a flag unfurling, as it broke apart and headed into space. The material observed is actually ionized Helium at about 60,000 degrees. Prominences are relatively cool clouds of gas suspended above the Sun and controlled by magnetic forces.

A transit of the Moon across the face of the Sun on February 25, 2007 - but not seen from Earth. This sight was visible only from the STEREO-B spacecraft in its orbit about the sun, trailing behind the Earth. NASA's STEREO mission consists of two spacecraft launched in October, 2006 to study solar storms. STEREO-B is currently about 1 million miles from the Earth, 4.4 times farther away from the Moon than we are on Earth. As the result, the Moon appears 4.4 times smaller than what we are used to.

On September 30, 2001, TRACE observed an M1.0 flare in an active region very near to the solar limb. Fragments of a prominence hovered above the regions, with filamentary dark (relatively cool) material moving along the field lines, which then spread to form this dragon-like bright outline.

Selasa, 5 Oktober 2010


Soyuz TMA-11 prime and backup crewmembers are protected behind glass during the State Commission meeting and press conference Oct. 9, 2007 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The crew was in preparation for their launch to the International Space Station Oct. 10 in their Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft.

When NASA's last scheduled Space Shuttle mission lands in June of 2010, the United States will not have the capability to get astronauts into space again until the scheduled launch of the new Orion spacecraft in 2015. Over those five years, the U.S. manned space program will be relying heavily on Russia and its Baikonur Cosmodrome facility in Kazakhstan. Baikonur is an entire Kazakh city, rented and administered by Russia. The Cosmodrome was founded in 1955, making it one of the oldest space launch facilites still in operation. Here are collected some photographs of manned and unmanned launches from Baikonur over the past several years.

The flags of Malaysia, Russia and the United States sit between the phones used by officials to talk to the crew of the International Space Station in the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev, outside Moscow, seen on October 12, 2007.

The Soyuz TMA-3 spacecraft and its booster rocket, transported by rail to the launch pad to be raised to a vertical launch position at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on October 16, 2003, in preparation for liftoff October 18 to carry C. Michael Foale, Expedition 8 commander and NASA science officer; Alexander Kaleri, Soyuz Commander and flight engineer; and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Pedro Duque of Spain to the International Space Station.

A view of the bottom of the booster rocket for the Soyuz TMA-6 spacecraft, shortly after the two were mated at an integration facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 12, 2005.

NASA astronaut Peggy A. Whitson, Expedition 16 commander, has a pressure suit leak check performed on her Russian Sokol launch and entry suit at RSC Energia Assembly and Testing Facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, in preparation for her launch on a Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft to the International Space Station scheduled for Oct. 10.

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov (C), US astronaut Michael Fincke (L) and his compatriot, space tourist Richard Garriott (R) practice inside a Soyuz-TMA space flight simulator in Star City (a training facility north of Moscow, Russia) on September 19, 2008.

Cosmonaut Salizhan S. Sharipov, Russia's Federal Space Agency Expedition 10 flight engineer and Soyuz commander, donned his launch and entry suit and climbed aboard the Soyuz TMA-5 spacecraft October 5, 2004, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a dress rehearsal of launch day activities leading to their liftoff October 14 to the International Space Station.

Astronaut Leroy Chiao (r), Expedition 10 commander cosmonaut Salizhan S. Sharipov (c), and Russian Space Forces cosmonaut Yuri Shargin (l) donned their launch and entry suits and climbed aboard the Soyuz TMA-5 spacecraft October 5, 2004, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a dress rehearsal of launch day activities leading to their liftoff October 14 to the ISS.

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 17 Commander Sergei Volkov (center), Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko (right) and South Korean spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi bid farewell to well wishers April 8, 2008 prior to heading to the launch pad for their liftoff on the Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Railroad tracks lead to the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad. Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft and its booster were rolled out on March 28, 2006, for final pre-launch preparations. The Soyuz was set to blast off on March 30, 2006,

The Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft is rolled to its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan April 6, 2008 in preparation for launch April 8 to carry new residents and a spaceflight participant to the International Space Station. The Soyuz began the move from its assembly and integration building to the launch pad on a railcar at sunrise, arriving at the pad several hours later for final technical preparations.

With a mockup of the defunct Russian "Buran" Space Shuttle sitting passively nearby (lower right), the Soyuz TMA-3 spacecraft and its booster rocket crawl on a rail car to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan October 16, 2003, in preparation for its liftoff October 18 to carry three astronauts to the International Space Station.

Baikonur hosts both manned and unmanned launches. Here is shown a Russian Proton-M rocket carrying a Canadian communication Nimiq 4 satellite being transported to a launching pad of the Baikonur Cosmodrome on September 15, 2008. The Proton-M will carry the satelite into geostationary orbit on September 18, 2008.

Spectators try to grab the highest viewing point to watch the launch of the Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft, carrying Expedition 13 crew members to the International Space Station on March 30, 2006.

Preparations are underway for liftoff of the Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft as the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle with the Soyuz spacecraft is installed on the launch system and the transporter-emplacer arm moves away, October 8, 2007

A Soyuz spacecraft lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 10:54 p.m. (CDT) on April 26, 2003. Onboard were cosmonaut Yuri I. Malenchenko, Expedition Seven mission commander, and astronaut Edward T. Lu, NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer. Malenchenko represents Rosaviakosmos.

The Soyuz TMA-6 spacecraft seen high overhead as it blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at daybreak on April 15, 2005 (Kazakhstan time), carrying three astronauts to the ISS.

Backdropped by a cloud-covered Earth, the Soyuz 14 (TMA-10) spacecraft approaches the International Space Station. Onboard the spacecraft are cosmonauts Fyodor N. Yurchikhin, Expedition 15 commander; and Oleg V. Kotov, Soyuz commander and flight engineer, both representing Russia's Federal Space Agency; along with spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi. With Kotov at the controls, the Soyuz linked up to the ISS on April 9, 2007.

Backdropped against the blackness of space and airglow of Earth's horizon, an unpiloted Progress supply vehicle approaches the International Space Station (ISS). The Progress 15 resupply craft launched August 11, 2004 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to deliver almost three tons of food, fuel, oxygen, water and supplies to the Expedition 9 crewmembers onboard the Station.

The Baikonur launch complex, seen directly in a photograph taken by an Expedition 13 crew member aboard the International Space Station on September 9, 2006. The name Baikonur is Kazakh for "wealthy brown," i.e. "fertile land with many herbs."

A Kazakh farmer herds cattle across the tarmac on April 19, 2008, at the Arkalyk airport in Kazakhstan. Arkalyk is used as one of the helicopter staging areas for the landing of the Soyuz spacecraft, as they parachute back to Earth.

The city of Baikonur, Kazakhstan, is seen from the aircraft carrying Expedition 10 crew members on October 4, 2004. The crew will prepare for their launch on the Soyuz TMA-5 spacecraft October 14, 2004, to the ISS.

A series of three photographs shows the Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft floating to a landing southwest of Karaganda, Kazakhstan at approximately 6:30 p.m. local time on April 21, 2007. Onboard were astronaut Michael E. Lopez-Alegria, Expedition 14 commander and NASA space station science officer; cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, Soyuz commander and flight engineer representing Russia's Federal Space Agency; and U.S. spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi.

Technicians begin the process of removing cargo from the Soyuz TMA-7 capsule (blackened from the heat of re-entry) at sunrise on the steppes of Kazakhstan on April 9, 2006, following the pre-dawn landing of three ISS Expedition 12 crew members.

Expedition 13 crewmembers - cosmonaut Pavel V. Vinogradov (center), commander, and astronaut Jeffrey N. Williams (right), flight engineer and NASA ISS science officer - along with spaceflight participant Anousheh Ansari are attended to by Russian and American search and recovery teams on the steppe of central Kazakhstan on Sept. 29, 2006 following their landing in the Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft after undocking earlier in the day from the International Space Station.

In December 1998, the crew of Space Shuttle Mission STS-88 began construction of the International Space Station - Astronaut James Newman is seen here making final connections the U.S.-built Unity node to the Russian-built Zarya module. The crew carried a large-format IMAX camera from which this picture was taken.
This month marks the 10th anniversary of the first launched module of the International Space Station (ISS). The module Zarya was lifted into orbit on November 20th, 1998 by a Russian Proton rocket lifting off from Baikonur, Kazhakstan. In the decade since, 44 manned flights and 34 unmanned flights have carried further modules, solar arrays, support equipment, supplies and a total of 167 human beings from 15 countries to the ISS, and it still has a ways to go until it is done. Originally planned to be complete in 2003, the target date for completion is now 2011. Aside from time spent on construction, ISS crew members work on a good deal of research involving biology and physics in conditions of microgravity. If humans are ever to leave the Earth for extended periods, the ISS is designed to be the place where we will discover the best materials, procedures and safety measures to make it a reality.

Backdropped against a blanket of heavy cloud cover, the Russian-built FGB, also called Zarya, approaches the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the U.S.-built Node 1, also called Unity (foreground) on December 6th, 1998. Inside Endeavour's cabin, the STS-88 crew readied the remote manipulator system (RMS) for Zarya capture as they awaited the rendezvous.

Blanketing clouds form the backdrop for this 70mm scene of the connected Zarya and Unity modules after having been released from Endeavour's cargo bay a bit earlier on December 4th, 1998. Six crew members, who had earlier spent the majority of their on-duty mission time working on the tandem of space hardware, watched the joined modules from Endeavour in a survey and fly-around mode.

Astronaut Robert L. Curbeam, STS-98 mission specialist, was photographed by a member of the Expedition One crew in the newly installed Destiny laboratory during the second of three space walks on February 12th, 2001. Ahead of schedule, the astronauts connected several computer and electrical cables between the docking port and the lab; unveiled the lab's large, high-quality window (through which this photo was taken) and attached an exterior shutter; and repositioned a movable foot platform they had taken inside Atlantis on the first spacewalk for a slight adjustment.

Space shuttle Endeavour is shown after rollback of the rotating service structure. The rollback was in preparation for liftoff on the STS-126 mission with a crew of seven. Above Endeavour's external tank is the vent hood, known as the "beanie cap," at the end of the gaseous oxygen vent arm, extending from the fixed service structure. Below is the orbiter access arm with the White Room at the end, flush against the shuttle. The rotating structure provides protected access to the shuttle for changeout and servicing of payloads at the pad. Photo taken Nov. 14, 2008.

This high-angle image of the Space Shuttle Atlantis backdropped over a mountainous coastline was photographed on February 16th, 2001 by the three-man Expedition One crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) shortly after the shuttle and the outpost unlinked following several days of joint operations of the two crews. The scene was recorded with a digital still camera.

The Phantom Torso, seen here on May 13th, 2001 in the Destiny laboratory on the International Space Station (ISS), is designed to measure the effects of radiation on organs inside the body by using a torso that is similar to those used to train radiologists on Earth. The torso is equivalent in height and weight to an average adult male. It contains radiation detectors that will measure, in real-time, how much radiation the brain, thyroid, stomach, colon, and heart and lung area receive on a daily basis. The data will be used to determine how the body reacts to and shields its internal organs from radiation, which will be important for longer duration space flights.

Silhouetted over Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) is seen on October 11th, 2000 in a configuration soon to be changed, once the approaching STS-92 crew adds its important new changes. If oriented with Earth's horizon on the left, the ISS elements, from the left, are Node 1 or Unity, the functional cargo block or Zarya, the service module or Zvezda and the Progress supply ship. In a matter of days, the crew went on to add the Z1 Truss structure and a third pressurized mating adapter.

Astronaut Donald R. Pettit, Expedition 6 NASA ISS science officer, photographs his helmet visor during a session of extravehicular activity (EVA) on January 15th, 2003. Pettit's arms and camera are visible in the reflection of his helmet visor. Astronaut Kenneth D. Bowersox, mission commander, is also visible in visor reflection, upper right.

he Expedition Three (white shirts), STS-105 (striped shirts), and Expedition Two (red shirts) crews assemble for a group photo in the Destiny laboratory on the International Space Station on August 17th, 2001.

An overhead view of the exterior of the Space Shuttle Atlantis' crew cabin, part of its payload bay doors and docking system was provided by Expedition 16 crewmembers. Before docking with the International Space Station, astronaut Steve Frick, STS-122 commander, flew the shuttle through a roll pitch maneuver or basically a backflip to allow the space station crew a good view of Atlantis' heat shield. Using digital still cameras equipped with both 400 and 800 millimeter lenses, the ISS crewmembers took a number of photos of the shuttle's thermal protection system and sent them down to teams on the ground for analysis. Photo taken February 9th, 2008.

Astronaut Carl E. Walz, Expedition Four flight engineer, catalogs canisters of water in the Zvezda Service Module on the International Space Station on March 11th, 2002

The Soyuz TMA-4 vehicle blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 19, 2004, carrying a crew of three to the ISS.

The Soyuz 14 (TMA-10) spacecraft approaches the International Space Station. With cosmonaut Oleg Kotov at the controls, the Soyuz linked up to the Zarya module nadir port at 2:10 p.m. (CDT) on April 9, 2007. The docking followed Saturday's launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The ISS, seen following undocking at 1:13 p.m. (CST), December 9, 2000. This is one of the first images of the entire station with its new solar array panels deployed. Before separation, the shuttle and space station had been docked to one another for 7 days. Endeavour moved downward from the space station, then began a tail-first circle at a distance of about 500 feet. The maneuver, with pilot Michael J. Bloomfield at the controls, took about an hour.

stronaut John L. Phillips, Expedition 11 NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer, is photographed among stowage bags in an airlock on the ISS on May 18th, 2005.

Astronaut Leroy Chiao, Expedition 10 commander and NASA ISS science officer, watches a water bubble float between him and the camera, showing his image refracted, on the IISS on January 15th, 2005.

This medium close-up view in the now densely-equipped Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station shows one floating ball-shaped item which is actually one of the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) on January 27th, 2008. Cosmonaut Yuri I. Malenchenko, Expedition 16 flight engineer representing Russia's Federal Space Agency, is also visible in the background.

The Canadarm2 (center) and solar array panel wings on the International Space Station are featured in this image photographed by a crewmember during the mission's first planned session of extravehicular activity (EVA) while Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-118) was docked with the station on August 11th, 2007. To see a larger panorama (stitched together with another photo of the Endeavour), click here.

Astronaut C. Michael Foale, Expedition 8 commander and NASA ISS science officer, equipped with a bungee harness, exercises on the Treadmill Vibration Isolation System (TVIS) in the Zvezda Service Module on the ISS on April 12th, 2004.

Backdropped by a blanket of clouds, the ISS was photographed by a crewmember on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis following the undocking of the two spacecraft. Atlantis pulled away from the complex at 8:13 a.m. (CDT) on October 16, 2002.

This view features a reboost of the International Space Station (ISS) in action. Ground controllers at Mission Control Moscow ignited the thrusters of a Progress rocket docked to the station's Zvezda Service Module on April 4th, 2003. The 14-minute firing raised the average altitude of the station by about 3 km. One of the Expedition 6 crewmembers captured this picture of the yellow-glowing thrusters from a window in the Service Module.

A close up view of a water droplet on a leaf on the Russian BIO-5 Rasteniya-2/Lada-2 (Plants-2) plant growth experiment, which is located in the Zvezda Service Module on the ISS. Photo taken on March 9th, 2003.

The ISS is backdropped against a cloud-covered part of Earth as the orbital outpost moves away from the Space Shuttle Discovery on August 6th, 2005. Earlier, the crews of the two spacecraft concluded nine days of cooperative work.

Astronaut Karen Nyberg, STS-124 mission specialist, looks through a window in the newly installed Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station while Space Shuttle Discovery is docked with the station on June 10th, 2008.

Astronaut Stephen Robinson rides the 17-meter-long Canadarm2 during the STS-114 mission of the space shuttle Discovery to the ISS in August of 2005. The Canadarm2 aboard the ISS has multiple joints and is capable of maneuvering payloads as massive as 116,000 kilograms, equivalent to a fully loaded bus.

The ISS is seen moving away from the Space Shuttle Atlantis on June 19th, 2007. Earlier the STS-117 and Expedition 15 crews concluded about eight days of cooperative work onboard the shuttle and station. Astronaut Lee Archambault, STS-117 pilot, was at the controls for the departure and fly-around, which gave Atlantis' crew a look at the station's new expanded configuration.

A spacesuit-turned-satellite called SuitSat began its orbit around the Earth after it was released by the ISS Expedition 12 crewmembers during a session of extravehicular activity (EVA) on Feb. 3, 2006. SuitSat, an unneeded Russian Orlan spacesuit, was outfitted by the crew with three batteries, internal sensors and a radio transmitter, which faintly transmitted recorded voices of school children to amateur radio operators worldwide. The suit entered the atmosphere and burned a few weeks later.

High above New Zealand and Cook Strait, astronauts Robert L. Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang work to attach a new truss segment to the ISS and begin to upgrade the power grid on December 12th, 2006.

The ISS is seen from Space Shuttle Discovery as the two spacecraft begin their relative separation. Earlier the STS-124 and Expedition 17 crews concluded almost nine days of cooperative work onboard the shuttle and station. Undocking of the two spacecraft occurred at 6:42 a.m. (CDT) on June 11th, 2008.

Astronaut Steve Bowen, STS-126 mission specialist, participates in the mission's first session of extravehicular activity (EVA) on November 18th, 2008, as construction and maintenance continue on the ISS. During the six-hour, 52-minute spacewalk, Bowen and astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper (out of frame), mission specialist, worked to clean and lubricate part of the station's starboard Solar Alpha Rotary Joints (SARJ) and to remove two of SARJ's 12 trundle bearing assemblies. The spacewalkers also removed a depleted nitrogen tank from a stowage platform on the outside of the complex and moved it into Endeavour's cargo bay.