What an amazing image! The ATV-2 Johannes Kepler looks like an X-Wing fighter from Star Wars as it departed from the International Space Station. Astronaut Ron Garan posted the image on his Twitpic page, asking viewers if they thought the spacecraft looked like the fictional fighter jets of the Alliance.
The ATV-2 left the ISS and entered Earth’s atmosphere on June 21. The spacecraft had a “blackbox” on board, a Re-Entry Breakup Recorder (REBR) to monitor temperature, acceleration, rotation rate, and other data as it tumbled and disintegrated through the atmosphere. The data was sent down via a “phone call” to an Iridium satellite to help scientists better understand the physics of what happens to a spacecraft when it breaks up on re-entry.
So, enjoy one last beautiful look at the ATV-2 in this stunning image.
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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 the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.