If this isn’t one of the most breathtaking space pictures ever, I don’t know what is. It’s the ISS at its full and final length, with all four sets of solar arrays unfurled, against the limb of Earth. The STS-119 mission successfully did its job of bringing up and installing the final set of solar array wings, giving the ISS the “finished” look we’ve all been waiting for. There are a few more modules to bring up, but none so big as the solar arrays. And now the space station is the second brightest object in the night sky, second only to the Moon. Click on the image to download a hi-resolution version.
Space shuttle Discovery returned home on Saturday, March 28 landing at 3:14 pm EDT. The weather and winds cooperated, allowing the spacecraft to land on the second opportunity of the day. Enjoy more images from the highly successful mission below.
Astronaut Richard Arnold during an EVA. Credit: NASA
An astronaut at work. Ricky Arnold, STS-119 mission specialist, works outside the space staton during the mission’s third extravehicular activity (EVA), doing a few construction and maintenance tasks during the six-hour, 27-minute spacewalk.
A view during the 3rd EVA of STS-119. Credit: NASA
This is a great image that makes you appreciate how big the space station is. Ricky Arnold (right) and Joseph Acaba worked during the third EVA of the mission to help robotic arm operators relocate the Crew Equipment Translation Aid (CETA) cart from the Port 1 to Starboard 1 truss segment, lubricated the space station’s robotic arm and performed a few other “get ahead” tasks.
John Phillips flies through the ISS. Credit: NASA
I think almost everyone dreams of doing this: flying. But this was no dream for astronaut John Phillps — he really was flying through the ISS. It sure looks like fun!
Crews of the ISS and STS-119. Credit: NASA
Group photo of the crews from the ISS and STS-119. From the left (bottom row) are NASA astronauts Tony Antonelli, STS-119 pilot; Lee Archambault, STS-119 commander; and Joseph Acaba, STS-119 mission specialist. From the left (middle row) are NASA astronauts Sandra Magnus, STS-119 mission specialist; and Michael Fincke, Expedition 18 commander; along with cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut (JAXA) Koichi Wakata, both Expedition 18 flight engineers. From the left (top row) are NASA astronauts Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold and John Phillips.
Discovery appoaches the ISS. Credit: NASA
Here’s a nice image of the space shuttle approaching the space station, backdropped by a blue and white Earth, as the shuttle gets ready for rendezvous and docking with the ISS.
Touchdown! Credit: NASA
Commander Lee Archambault nails the landing as Discovery touches down on the runway at Kennedy Space Center.
The STS-119 crew post landing. Credit: NASA
Discovery crew members spoke after the landing on Saturday, and after the traditional walk-around of the spaceshuttle. Commander Lee Archambault introduced five of the seven members of the STS-119 mission crew. Ricky Arnold remained in the crew quarters, as well as returning ISS crewmember Sandy Magnus, taking things a little slower after her 130-day stint in space.
By Nancy Atkinson
- Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.