Danny – First Atlantic Hurricane of 2015 as Seen from Space Station by Scott Kelly

Hurricane Danny, the first Atlantic Ocean hurricane of the 2015 season has been caught on camera by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, in a beautiful image taken on Thursday, August 20 at 6 a.m. EDT from his glorious perch aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Poking majestically down at the sprawling hurricane is the space stations Canadian-built robotic arm that will be used by Kelly in a few days to grapple Kounotori, the Japanese cargo ship launched earlier this week and berth it at a docking port.

Kelly is nearly five months into his year-long stay aboard the ISS and is a prolific photographer of the natural wonders of our home planet.

“Hurricane Danny. Keeping an eye on you from the International Space Station. Looks like you’re 1st in the Atlantic this year. Stay safe below! #YearInSpace,” wrote Kelly on his Facebook and twitter pages.

Danny had risen to a Category 3 hurricane by Friday afternoon, August 21, with winds over 115 mph and was moving westward in the Central Atlantic Ocean towards the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean.

By 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC) on Friday, August 21, the eye of Hurricane Danny was located near latitude 14.0 North, longitude 48.2 West, according to NASA. The center of Danny was about 930 miles (1,195 km) east of the Leeward Islands. With maximum sustained winds of near 105 mph (165 kph), Danny was a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

By 8:00 p.m. Friday evening, Friday, the National Hurricane Center said Danny was located over the central tropical Atlantic Ocean about 800 miles east of the Leeward Islands.

Late this evening at 11 p.m., the National Hurricane Center said it had weakened slightly back to a Category 2 storm with maximum winds of 110 mph and was located at 14.8°N and 49.8°W while moving west northwest at 10 mph.

The NASA GOES-East animation below combines visible and infrared imagery showing Hurricane Danny’s movement in the eastern and central Atlantic Ocean from Aug. 18 to 21, 2015.

Video caption: Hurricane Danny Seen By GOES-East. This animation of visible and infrared imagery of Hurricane Danny in the Central Atlantic Ocean was taken from NOAA’s GOES-East satellite from Aug. 18 to 21. Credits: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center think it may weaken over the next few days as it heads towards the Caribbean islands.

“Vertical shear is expected to increase further during the next couple of days, which should allow drier air in the surrounding environment to penetrate into Danny’s circulation. Therefore,there is no change in the thinking that Danny should weaken as it approaches and moves across the Leeward Islands and the Greater Antilles during the forecast period.”

Danny could reach Puerto Rico by Monday in a weakened state.

Although it’s still far away from the US, it’s not expected to impact the East Coast but that could change.

If Danny were to take aim at the US, it could impact plans to launch the Air Force MUOS-4 satellite on Aug. 31 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station by United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Here’s a map showing the current location:

Hurricane Danny location on Aug. 21, 2015. Credit: National Hurricane Center
Hurricane Danny location on Aug. 21, 2015. Credit: National Hurricane Center

On Aug. 19, NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission core satellite passed over Danny and analyzed the structure of its rainfall, as seen in this image.

On Aug. 19, 2015 GPM saw Danny's rain structure was still asymmetric as noted by the large rain band (identified by the green arc indicating moderate rain) being located mainly on the eastern side of the storm. Within this rain band, GPM detected rain rates of up to 73.9 mm/hour (shown in darker red).Credits: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce
On Aug. 19, 2015 GPM saw Danny’s rain structure was still asymmetric as noted by the large rain band (identified by the green arc indicating moderate rain) being located mainly on the eastern side of the storm. Within this rain band, GPM detected rain rates of up to 73.9 mm/hour (shown in darker red).Credits: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce

A research team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, created a 3-D rendering of Danny using data from the GPM DPR (Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar) instrument.

“GPM showed that Danny was still in the process of becoming organized. The rain structure was still very asymmetric as noted by a large rain band being located mainly on the eastern side of the storm. Within this rain band, GPM detected rain rates of up to 73.9 mm/hour. At the time of this image, Danny was still a minimal tropical storm with sustained winds estimated at 50 mph by the National Hurricane Center (NHC),” said officials.

And dont forget that you can watch Commander Scott Kelly and his five international crew mates on a regular basis as they soar overhead. Just click on NASA’s Spot the Station link and plug in your location.

ISS crosses the Big Dipper over NJ.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
ISS crosses the Big Dipper over NJ. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

Japans White Stork Kounotori Grappled and Nested at Space Station: Video,Photo Album

[/caption]

Japans critical new resupply spaceship – nicknamed Kounotori2, (HTV2) – was successfully berthed today (Jan. 27) at the International Space Station (ISS). Kounotori2 – which translates as ‘White Stork’ in Japanese – was grappled by the ISS crew and then manually nested to an Earth facing docking port on the Harmony module.

Kounotori2 was launched aboard a Japanese H-IIB rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan at 12:37 a.m. (2:27 p.m. Japan time) on Jan. 22 to begin a five day orbital chase of the station.

View the Video and a Photo album below of the rendezvous and docking sequence

The two ships became one as Astronaut Cady Coleman grappled the free flying ‘White Stork’ at 6:41 a.m. EST with the stations robotic arm while the vessels were flying in formation about 220 miles above the south Indian Ocean in an easterly direction.

“Grapple completed, Kounotori is grappled!”
Kounotori2 was grappled by ISS crewmate Cady Coleman at 6:41 a.m. EST with the stations robotic arm while flying about 220 miles above the south Indian Ocean. ISS Tweet and Twitpic Credit: NASA/Paolo Nespoli

After an automatic rendezvous early this morning, the unmanned HTV2 cargo carrier slowly approached the space station from below to a series of ever closer hold points- 250 m, 30 m and 10 m.

Mission controllers on Earth carefully maneuvered the 35,000 pound ship to the final capture distance of about 33 feet (10 meters). The HTV thrusters were disabled and it was placed into ‘free drift’ mode.

ISS astronauts Paolo Nespoli, Cady Coleman and Commander Mark Kelly crew monitored the approach from inside the ISS. The crew was deftly working at the controls of the robotics work station of the Cupola Observation dome.

The unpiloted Japanese Kounotori2 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV2) is about to be attached to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module by the station’s robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV

Finally, Coleman gently grabbed the ‘White Stork’ with the 58 foot long Space Station Robotic arm, built and contributed by Canada.

“Grapple completed, Kounotori is grappled!” tweeted and twitpiced Paolo Nespoli from the ISS.

“This demonstrates what we can do when humans and robots work together,” radioed Cady Coleman.”We look forward to bringing HTV 2 – Kounotori – aboard the International Space Station.”


Video caption: Japanese Cargo Craft Arrives at ISS.
From: NASAtelevision | January 27, 2011
An unpiloted Japanese resupply ship, the “Kounotori”2 H-2B Transfer Vehicle (HTV2 ), was captured and berthed to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module of the International Space Station Jan. 27, 2011. The berthing took place after an automated five-day flight following its launch on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s H-2B rocket Jan. 22 from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. The ‘Kounotori’, which means “white stork” in Japanese, is loaded with more than four tons of supplies and spare parts for the six crew members on the orbital laboratory. Expedition 26 Flight Engineers Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli were at the controls of the robotic work station in the space station’s Cupola module to maneuver the Canadarm2 robotic arm for the grapple and berthing of the HTV2, which will remain at the orbital outpost until the end of March

Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli had the honor of driving Kounotori2 to a hard dock at the station. The attachment was completed at 9:51 a.m. EST after Kelly inspected the docking mechanism and confirmed it was clear of debris and ready. 16 bolts firmly latched the cargo freighter into place a few hours later.

The crew will open the hatch to Kounotori2 on Friday, (Jan. 28) at about 7:30 a.m. This is only the second flight of the Kounotori. The barrel shaped vehicle is coated with 57 solar panels.

HTV-2, we are ready for you! HTV-2, siamo pronti per te! ISS Tweet and Twitpic Credit: NASA/Paolo Nespoli

Kounotori2 is loaded with over 4 tons of pressurized and unpressurized cargo, including science experiments, research gear, space parts, clothing, food and water and other provisions from Japan, NASA and Canada.

HTV2 will remain docked at the ISS for about two months until late March. During that time the ISS crew will retrieve all the equipment and supplies for transfer to locations both inside and outside the ISS.

Using the Canadian robotic arm and Dextre robot, a pallet loaded with large spare parts for the station will be extracted from a slot on the side of the cargo ship robot and attached to an experiment platform outside the Japanese Kibo module.

The White Stork “ Kounotori’ flying high above the Nile river, Egypt as it is about to be grappled by the ISS crew with the station’s robotic arm on Jan. 27, 2011. Credit: NASA TV

On Feb. 18, the ISS crew will move the HTV from the Earth facing port. They will relocate it 180 degrees to the other side of the Harmony module to the space facing zenith port. This maneuver is required to provide enough clearance for Space Shuttle Discovery so that the orbiter can also safely dock at the Harmony module in late February. Discovery is set to launch on Feb. 24.

The HTV2 docking marks the start of an extremely busy time of orbital comings and goings at the ISS.

A Russian Progress resupply ship launches later today, at 8:31 p.m. EST. Following a two day chase, the Progress will dock on Saturday night (Jan. 29) at 9:39 p.m. and deliver over 6000 pounds of cargo to the station. Watch NASA TV

The European ATV cargo ship – named ‘Johannes Kepler – blasts off on Feb. 15.

HTV2 Rendezvous & Docking Photo Album: Jan 27, 2011
All photos Credit NASA and NASA TV

ISS astronauts Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli work inside the Cupola robotics work station. They grappled the free flying White Stork 'Kounotori' for attachment to the ISS today, Jan. 27, 2011. ISS Twitpic Credit: NASA/ESA