International Space Station on the Moon?

by Nancy Atkinson on December 29, 2010

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Lunar transit of the International Space Station on Dec. 20,2010. Credit: Theirry Legault. Used by permission.

From our vantage point on Earth, it takes just a half second for the International Space Station to fly across the face of the Moon, so catching a transit is tricky. But award-winning French astrophotographer Theirry Legault captured an amazingly sharp and detailed transit image that makes the ISS look like it is sitting on the Moon’s surface! Legault took this image from Avranches (Normandy, France) a few hours before the eclipse, on December 20th at 21:34 UT. He used a Meade 10″ ACF on Takahashi EM400, with a Canon 5D mark II. The transit duration was just 0.55 seconds, as the ISS is traveling at 7.5km/s or 28,0000 km/h (17,500 mph). See below for a close-up crop of the image which shows the amount of detail visible of the space station.

Close-up of the ISS transiting the Moon. Credit: Theirry Legault. Used by permission.

Legault has also taken incredible images of the ISS and a docked space shuttle transiting the Sun, (at least twice), as well as the shuttle Atlantis and Hubble transiting old Sol.

See more of his images at his website, or click the images for larger versions. Legault told us he’ll be traveling for a good view of the solar eclipse on January 4, so we look forward to his images of that event.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Hon. Salacious B. Crumb December 29, 2010 at 8:39 AM

Oh mon mot! Internationalé Orbitale La Station est entrée dans un transit lunaire.
Êtes-vous sûrs qu’il n’a pas été piraté par les étrangers, ou ces Russes?

Volez moi à la lune et permettez-moi de jouer parmi les étoiles!

Aqua December 29, 2010 at 11:04 PM

I like your topic “International Space Station on the Moon?” for its double intendre? Ahem… here goes… WHY does ESA, JAXA, Roscosmos and NASA continue to waste orbital assets by not reusing orbital supply vessels to build a lunar space station? NOT doing so seems an irresponsible waste at best, at least to me….

I’m not proposing direct lunar insertion with high impulse rocket engines, instead I am a proponent of pumping up an orbit over time with ion engines then once lunar orbit rendezvousing with a crewed spacecraft like the dragon or the Orion.or something from Ruscosmos?

Redbaron719 December 30, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Aqua, from where I sit, you’re not getting the big picture that puts your question into perspective. IMHO, what’s being played out for us–largely in the US Congress Arena– is the interaction of Big League Economic Hardball and The Military-Industrial Global Conglomerate Conspires To Defraud the American People And Nullify International Treaties By Fiat–as a “dog and pony show” for American (and internat’l) public benefit. Keep your eye on the ball–err, rather the money. Big money. Gargantuan money. Europe and Russia don’t have enough and aren’t positioned correctly. Japan and India are too far behind the curve and poorly funded. China has it in spades, now, but will finish 2nd due to early misplaced priorities after a very late start. The USA has the pole position with the clock ticking and timing of the essence, enough money from wherever–including some Euro money from Branson, etc. and the time-honored winning strategy that served British Imperial expansion so well–publicly sponsored mega-corps.

You see, the Helium-3 in the top meter of Moon soil is largely unobtainable on Earth and worth at least several $ trillion because it is vital to make nuclear fusion reactors practical. (NIF at LLNL is going hot with inertial fusion inside 2 years. That’s a virtual done deal already ramping up. Full commercialization will follow with fusion power to the grid 10-15 years afterward. See current Dr Edward Moses video on YouTube laying it all out…except for the He-3 upgrade he well knows will be necessary, but doesn’t want to discuss yet for obvious reasons.) The minerals obtained as byproducts in strip mining and processing the He-3 will be far, far more in volume and likely tally out to another several $ trillion-minimum. Those minerals and the water ice up there will support colonialization and industrialization in buried Bigelow habitats made possible by the strip mining. Power’s from solar cells, plus small fission reactors-moving inexorably to fusion reactors. Food stuff’s from hydroponic greenhouses in bright, unimpeded sunlight (satellite mirrored during moon’s night) with adjustable Lite/Dark cycles. Long-term occupation is possible because there is gravity (which can also be magnetically enhanced) and readily crafted protection from solar radiation. Any and all of the above raw materials have special worth in being beyond the Earth’s gravity well, so as to allow their ready use of anything produced in outer space. Getting heavy loads off the Moon is relatively easy. Industrial refinement and smelting add nothing to Earth atmospheric pollution and Global Warming via “greenhouse gases”.

Boosting from Moon orbit to Mars isn’t much of a trick, either. What can be extracted from Mars and its moons is huge in dollar terms and currently incalculable. Very possibly what’s there would rival what mankind has found on Earth in the last 20,000 years. Late 1990′s NASA documents place the value of the minerals in the Main Asteroid Belt at around $600 quintillion!

If the US Government, or its proxy, NASA, gets out to that bounty first, there will be quite a squabble over ownership–including problems vis a vis US multi-national treaties internationalizing space and forbidding laying national sovereignty claims to celestial bodies and militarization. Hence, the current apparent disinterest in being too clever or efficient in recycling “space junk” for the present. Multi-national corporate conglomerates have signed no treaties, but do have the recognized ability on Earth to lay claim to property. If they “happen” to get out there first, who’s going to deny them that same right in space? Minus complications with national sovereignty, corporations are in the unassailable catbird seat.

How likely is it that savvy speculators like Musk and Branson and others are going balls out in their private space race to obtain a few ISS space cargo and astronaut taxi contracts, or simply to make chump change giving LEO rides to rich poobahs? (Believe that and I have some bridges in NY and some prime So. FL real estate I’d like to discuss selling you.) Moreover, just as Roscosmos, ESA, JAXA, the Chinese and the Indians are gearing up their space efforts, isn’t it odd that the US/NASA seems to be in near total disarray and default?

Look for those extra funds under debate to be appropriated by the US Congress to help the corporations move fast enough to beat the other national efforts. Look for the USA/NASA to keep floundering around–except for the “secret initiatives” under DARPA and the USAF Space Command, like the X-37B, etc.

Then, look for Musk, Branson, Rutan, Bigelow and others to carve up and claim the various celestial assets as private property backed by the US military, which will suddenly uncloak a USAF Space Command Fleet. All that you’re seeing will have been a huge ruse to allow uncomplicated transition to corporate hegemony in space. But, of course, We the (American) People will pay the taxes to maintain security against any “negative elements” objecting to the New Order in and above the wild, blue yonder. At that point, politics be damned—corporate mega fortunes and property rights must be protected—PERIOD! That sort of fait accompli is extremely hard to argue against successfully–and to whom as court of appeal? (At this point, all that space junk will get scarfed up eagerly as free salvage to build initial infrastructure–FOR the space mega-corps and the Space Command forces.)

Note that the above scenario is a world class “game changer” of sorts. The multi-national mega-corps are more American than anything else, so will favor US policies after a fashion. Space becomes Phase 2 of “moving offshore”, but attached much more to the American ethos, since “US national security interests” will figure in the mix and “loyalties” will need to be taken heavily into account. Besides, the new “powers that be” out there will need the security potentially provided by whatever USAF Space Command has in the wings to follow the X-37B. One hand washes the other, as they say.

The current Chinese strangle hold on certain critical raw materials and greatest concentration of basic industrial infrastructure will evaporate like the early morning mist. Near portions of space offer much more in the way of raw materials, nearly zero environmental impact concerns (from an Earth-centered viewpoint), easier access to said raw materials once geared up, and ARE de facto strategically virtually unassailable high ground with unlimited upside potential. Chinese capitalists, recognizing a good thing, will desert the Chicoms in Beijing and invest whatever they can with the triumphant mega-corps in space. Mainland China, followed by the Middle East oil states (now depleted and redundant) will descend into chaos and economic hell along with the perennial 3rd World have nots. The balance of the 1st World will follow along, buying into the dominant mega-corps. The “little people” of the 1st World, beginning with US nationals as most easily vetted, will have huge employment opportunity off-world, albeit, not necessarily great working conditions or high pay.

You heard it here first. Any bets that I’m not correct in reading between the lines?

Aqua December 29, 2010 at 11:09 PM

Theirry Legault! Thanks for all the effort and continued great results!

Spacemad December 30, 2010 at 2:09 AM

These images of the ISS transiting the Moon are absolutely fabulous! Many thanks, Theirry for making the fantastic images available to UT so we can all enjoy them! :)

42 December 30, 2010 at 12:37 PM

As an photographer for 20 years,including astro photographing,i have to say this is indeed a very impressive photo.This is some very technical photography at is best.I can just imagine all the work behind getting a result like this from my own experience..Exposure,timing,focus,shutter speed.. as well as the editing, this is just pure perfection..Dang! You are good at this mr Theirry!Thanks for sharing your work.Ps: and thanks for getting me to finally register on UT.

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