STS-133 Astronaut, ground-based observation  (update)   



 Image analysis 

The image below on the left side shows a part of the ISS with docked Space Shuttle Discovery in approach at a distance of still over 400 km. On the Port side we see a bright illuminated Payload Bay Door from Discovery and the Shuttle Robotic Arm Canadarm-1 (SRMS). At this point, Canadarm-2 (SSRMS), is weakly illuminated visible on the other side near the Columbus Module. (the module itself is mainly in shade). At the end of the Arm, STS-133 astronaut Steve Bowen is performing a spacewalk and just pops into view here as a small blurry spot. As the distance reduces, about 20 seconds later, the small spot of the astronaut has brightened and looks better resolved. The apparent size of the spacewalker seems comparable to the (partially illuminated) ExPRESS Logistics Carrier (ELC) mounted on the truss. On the image we can also see the newly, during the mission installed ELC-4 on the Starboard 3 truss. Also the two-armed Robot Dextre (Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM), which is clearly bigger then the astronaut, can be seen on the image.

  See also image of Robot Dextre grappled by Canadarm-2:

Below is a post-culmination image in a rare good moment of seeing. We see clearly the 2 booms of Shuttle Robotic arm SRMS which are only 33 centimeters in diameter. On the other side we see a part of the Station Robotic Arm SSRMS with at the end spacewalking astronaut Steve Bowen but now seen from an different angle then in the earlier images. Note also many details along the Integrated Truss Structure of the Station.


Below: Final processing of best frames reveals remarkable detail of STS-133 spacewalker Steve Bowen 
working near the Columbus Module. The simulation on the right shows the situation, but seen from an other angle.

  Background analysis with the astronaut point of view

Almost 2 years after the first capture of an STS-119 astronaut in EVA, another opportunity arose, to capture a spacewalking astronaut from the ground. In the years of experiences, I learned that a lot of factors are required to have a chance to capture an astronaut in an EVA. Beside a favorable pass, clear weather with acceptable seeing and so on, mainly location and illumination of the astronaut have to be favorable and that requires a lot of luck. In the 2009 image, it was a luck that the astronaut was in front of an open structure on the Earth-facing side. Now was the luck, the astronaut was mounted on the SSRMS or Canadarm 2 and was maneuvering freely in the direction of the Columbus Laboratory for tasks;
At the moment of pass, Steve Bowen just arrived near the outer edge of the Columbus module after a ride on Canadarm 2,  after installing a camera and removing a thermal blanket on the Robot Dextre. The first task he had when he arrived (for second time) at the Columbus lab,  was removing the portable foot restraint to install it on the zenith-side of the module. The other spacewalker on this EVA, Alvin Drew was just about ready recharging O2 inside the Quest Airlock and would leave it a short time after the pass.
On the ground-based image at the left you can see the sunlight shining on the Japanese Kibo Lab, you see the same in the Helmet-cam view of spacewalker Bowen. Further obvious in the ground-based shot is that the Columbus Laboratory itself is during this pass almost completely invisible, and is probably hidden behind the shadow of the Shuttle or other big structure of the Station. You see that also in the Helmet-cam shot.
The screenshot from Bowens Helmet-cam was made just a few minutes before the pass over here. in the meantime, the astronaut has moved just a little closer to the Lab.
The images of this session were taken during an 84 degrees culmination Northern pass on March 2,  2011. That is exactly 10 degrees more culmination compared to the (probably first ever) EVA-images taken in 2009 during the STS-119 mission. Circumstances during both imaging sessions were about equal with fairly hazy sky and fair seeing. The STS-133 EVA presented on this page was the last ever spacewalk for a mission with Space Shuttle Discovery and the last but four spacewalk performed by Shuttle astronauts at all.
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