The conditions were optimal for the STS-82 reentry in February, 1997 with the shuttle Discovery passing 10 degrees from the zenith with the sun 58.3 degrees below the horizon. Closest approach to Houston occurred at about 2:18am CST. Landing occured 14 minutes later at 2:32am CST. Below is the path of Discovery across the Southern U.S.
The following shows still pictures taken from the Webster, Texas area of the reentry of Discovery. The pictures were taken with a 50mm f/1.8 lens and Kodak Gold 100 film. Exposure times ranged from 1 to 5 seconds at random. If you don't want to load them all, the most interesting picture is probably the view at the end of the pass. The pictures were scanned as 8 bit grayscale (256 grays) as the colors are subtle and not accurate in the prints anyway.
Discovery appears above the horizon (really a light-polluted parking lot)...
The next view shows Discovery passing near the moon. Note the brighter tip to the trail. In real life, the trail had a bright pinpoint of light where Discovery was with the long trail extending behind it almost horizon to horizon. The elongation of this "pinpoint" is due to the shuttle's motion during the 1 second or so exposure.
Here Discovery has passed Houston so its trail starts angling down toward the eastern horizon. Mars is the dim speck in the upper right of the picture just below the trail.
In this view, the shuttle is probably to Louisiana. At this point the trail it left has started breaking up into sharply defined sections. I don't know what causes this. If you do please drop me a line. The same thing was noticed during an earlier reentry over South Texas (STS-51).
An enlarged view of the above picture is also available.
Here the shuttle is lower still and the trail is getting more fragmented. When this picture was taken the shuttle had just performed a roll reversal as part of its energy management. The ground track shows this reversal starting at about Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
As the pass neared the end, almost the full length of Discovery's trail back to the western horizon was visible. As time went on, the trail widened and became puffy like the contrail behind a jet. Several pictures of the expanding and dissipating trail were also taken. The trail appeared to fade away along it's entire length almost at the same time. The show ended about a minute after the trail disappeared with a loud sonic boom.
|Return to Home Page||Latest update: March 6, 1999|