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September 30, 2008 3:51 AM   Subscribe

Video of the destructive reentry into the atmosphere of the Automated Transfer Vehicle back from its trip to the ISS.
posted by Catfry (53 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Background.
posted by Catfry at 3:53 AM on September 30, 2008


Catfry, your link is incorrect. I thin kyou meant background
posted by twine42 at 4:18 AM on September 30, 2008


Why are things blowing up always so pretty...?
posted by twine42 at 4:19 AM on September 30, 2008


I'm having trouble picturing what kind of re-entry would appear to be moving up. Camera held at an angle? It's a low-earth orbit, so maybe it's moving more or less horizontally and the camera is twisted?
posted by DU at 4:28 AM on September 30, 2008


I recreated this video by getting my little brother to walk around the back yard at night holding a candle. It slightly was more spectacular than this post as he tripped over the dog and chipped a tooth.
posted by mattoxic at 4:47 AM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Strangely beautiful and reminiscent of the Space Shuttle Columbia breaking up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:51 AM on September 30, 2008


At least they're unmanned. That's progress.
posted by rokusan at 4:52 AM on September 30, 2008


I recreated this video by getting my little brother to walk around the back yard at night holding a candle.

It's a little better after the first minute or so. But with no indication of how long the video is, it's hard to wait.
posted by DU at 4:57 AM on September 30, 2008


Oh my God that's so beautiful.

Jules Verne would have approved.
posted by Kattullus at 5:07 AM on September 30, 2008


Cool post, thanks. I loved the part after the big chunk blew up and you were left with glowing spikes.
posted by octothorpe at 5:08 AM on September 30, 2008


That was beautiful, thank you.
posted by drdanger at 5:09 AM on September 30, 2008


It went like this, and then it went like this, and then it went: Vooooooooosh! Ka-plomb! Fwiiiiish! Bonk! ("Oi!") Twinkle twinkle twinkle!
posted by steef at 5:10 AM on September 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Success should always end with fire.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 5:12 AM on September 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


ATV re-entry: First pictures
posted by yeoz at 5:14 AM on September 30, 2008


er, if you click through on that above link, there are 'hi-res jpegs' too.
posted by yeoz at 5:16 AM on September 30, 2008


Entropy wins again!
posted by backseatpilot at 5:21 AM on September 30, 2008


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2OiAk1l2vs

Same video, but fullscreen is possible. Be sure to choose 'watch in high quality'.
The good bits start after 30s.
posted by Catfry at 5:26 AM on September 30, 2008


another shooting star
posted by Kimondo at 5:41 AM on September 30, 2008


It really makes you wonder about the ESA when they consider 720x570 jpgs to be 'hi-res'...
posted by twine42 at 6:32 AM on September 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


needs more tripod, but that was really really cool looking. every 4th of july fireworks show should end with something falling out of space.
posted by Mach5 at 6:33 AM on September 30, 2008


Wow. Now I've seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. . . Time to die.
posted by The Bellman at 6:49 AM on September 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


mattoxic: I recreated this video by getting my little brother to walk around the back yard at night holding a candle. It slightly was more spectacular than this post as he tripped over the dog and chipped a tooth.

Did your little brother blow up? If so, this thread is useless without pictures. If not, you should watch the video for more than 45 seconds before you snark.
posted by The Bellman at 6:51 AM on September 30, 2008


before you snark....

The video is not really THAT spectacular, the bits that were steady and in focus were, well, in focus and steady. So I snark, gently and in good humour.
posted by mattoxic at 7:16 AM on September 30, 2008


DU: If it helps, picture an airplane approaching your position from a long way away at a high altitude. As it comes over the horizon, it appears to move up from the horizon to the zenith, even though it's really going horizontally. So there's no way to judge the descent rate from that video, but I'd be surprised if the slope was more than a degree or two. Propellant mass is at a premium in orbit, and it's much more efficient to bring something down by dropping its perigee into the upper atmosphere and letting drag do the rest.
posted by teraflop at 7:31 AM on September 30, 2008


PS: Holy crap, it looks like the ISS and ATV were still in almost synchronized orbits when it reentered. I hope they were close enough to take some video from the other direction.
posted by teraflop at 7:44 AM on September 30, 2008


The video is not really THAT spectacular,

The explosions were pretty fantastic.
posted by smackfu at 7:46 AM on September 30, 2008


As it comes over the horizon, it appears to move up from the horizon to the zenith, even though it's really going horizontally.

That's what I was trying to describe with my "low earth orbit" remark, but it still doesn't quite work. The aspect in your description would be almost head on, meaning we'd see a very short tail. Or maybe that IS the short tail and it's really much, much longer?

There's no background in the video, so it's impossible to tell what direction we're looking. My eye keeps telling me it's "more-or-less straight up" based on nothing at all.
posted by DU at 7:50 AM on September 30, 2008


That was awesomely beautiful. Thanks for posting this, Catfry.
posted by interrobang at 7:59 AM on September 30, 2008


That's how I want to go out when I die. In like a hundred years.
posted by greasepig at 8:03 AM on September 30, 2008


Damn that was cool.
posted by Mister_A at 8:08 AM on September 30, 2008


du, you're on the surface of a sphere, and the reentry is happening on the surface of a transparent bowl that's over your head. It's not losing much altitude; it's staying at close to the same height above the ground.

(boy, I wish I could draw a diagram here).

When it first hits the atmosphere, near the horizon, it will be 'low' to you. As it flies across the surface of the huge bowl over your head, even though it's dropping slightly, it appears to rise because its angle is increasing. That is, it's moving across the sky much faster than it's falling down. There are multiple possible interpretations of that input, and one of them would be the object appearing in the distance, then moving straight up (assuming it's going to pass directly over your head.) Once it's over your head, it will then move straight down in the other direction, until it disappears behind the horizon. It's tracing the surface of a bowl over your head, gradually slowing down as it burns away in the atmosphere.

Probably, once it got close to you, the arc of motion would resolve itself better and make more sense, but at extreme distance, it's just gonna look like a line going up in the sky.
posted by Malor at 8:17 AM on September 30, 2008


Very cool! Thanks, Catfry?
posted by brundlefly at 8:21 AM on September 30, 2008


Uh... that was meant to be a !.... I'm unequivocal in my gratitude.
posted by brundlefly at 8:22 AM on September 30, 2008


Video of destructive reentry of ATV
posted by Pollomacho at 8:32 AM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, if the reentry path is offset by a few miles from your position, it'll appear to rise at an angle from the horizon, reach some maximum height (at which point the apparent motion is horizontal) at its point of closest approach, and start descending again as it goes over the horizon. Sorry if I'm just making things more muddled...
posted by teraflop at 8:58 AM on September 30, 2008


Since I work with satellite orbits on a daily basis, I'm pretty clear on what elevation angle means.

If the tail were longer (or at least changing with time) and/or the object were straight up and down in the video, it would be easier to resolve it as you say. But I guess the cameraman doesn't have his axis parallel to the flight path, so it is climbing at an apparent angle. Still doesn't explain the tail length.

I think the most parsimonious explanation is probably that the object is more or less straight overhead and that the cameraman has the camera rotated such that the object is heading up in the frame rather than from side to side.
posted by DU at 9:03 AM on September 30, 2008


Why can't the CGI on BSG be that subtle and beautiful? More bigger is not more better
posted by Auden at 9:10 AM on September 30, 2008


That would have been awesome, if only the multi-billion Euro space agency that actually put the thing up there in the first place had better video skills than a teenager borrowing his parents' handicam and tripod for the first time.

I'm sure there are people who've programmed their telescope mounts to track satellite orbits. It seems to me that if you just add a control to tweak the tracking speed as the satellite slows down you could make a near-perfect video of this sort of thing.
posted by bjrubble at 9:16 AM on September 30, 2008


Cat Pie Hurts : Success should always end with fire.

I'm going to apply this model to my work environment:

"Thank god we finally got our metrics in line, it sure took a lot of work from the whole team and I'm proud of each and every one of you. Now, you may notice that you are all covered in gasoline..."

posted by quin at 9:41 AM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The ESA need to either invest in a good fucking tripod or they need to get a copy of Final Cut or Adobe Premiere and stabilize that shit. Christ.

Also, I mean, is it too much to ask of them to not be so lame? I mean, they're the fucking E.S.A., man. You guys build satellites and rockets, right? You mean to tell me there's no way for you to get a camera in some kind of protective heat shield or something and strap the thing on the side? This looks like it was filmed using a Sony HandiCam on the back of a pickup truck with bad shocks driving over a field of boulders. Damn.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:31 AM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Perhaps they would be more successful with a non-standard low orbital reentry vehicle, something American, say a 1960 Chevy Corvette C1.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:42 AM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The ESA need to either invest in a good fucking tripod or they need to get a copy of Final Cut or Adobe Premiere and stabilize that shit. Christ.

I was surprised the stability went up near the end, especially as they zoomed in. I wonder if it was passing overhead or something.
posted by smackfu at 10:55 AM on September 30, 2008


This is exactly how my last relationship ended.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:29 AM on September 30, 2008


10 bonus points for unlocking the hidden Heavy Metal level, Smedleyman!
posted by Meatbomb at 11:38 AM on September 30, 2008


Now I can't stop thinking of Jules Verne riding an ATV.
posted by Eideteker at 1:33 PM on September 30, 2008


I just wanted to point out (in case it wasn't clear) that the ATV is designed to burn up on re-entry. It is the International Space Station's garbage incinerator.
posted by sdodd at 3:32 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


sdodd: I was wondering when somebody was going to say that. I think a few posters in this thread were under the impression it was full of people.
posted by tehloki at 4:07 PM on September 30, 2008


No, tehloki, everyone thought it was full of stars.
posted by Kattullus at 4:40 PM on September 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
posted by bwg at 6:00 PM on September 30, 2008


The ESA need to either invest in a good fucking tripod

I presume this footage was shot with an ordinary amateur camcorder; otherwise they do indeed have some explaining to do. Never mind the stability - this footage has autofocus hunting in it, just like every other amateur camcorder shot of a strange happening in the skies.

Apparently the reentry was also filmed from two observation planes and from the ISS itself, though, so presumably they've got some better footage waiting in the can.
posted by dansdata at 7:24 AM on October 1, 2008


I'd like to understand the flight path in the context of the video.

It looks like they chose to re-enter along the "ascending node path" and observe from 500--800 miles north at closest approach. That's consistent with the ATV initially moving upward and leftward, getting larger and following a more horizontal path towards the end of the breakup. If the two-minute video shows the ATV moving 1200 miles over the ocean, that's a ground speed of 16 km/s. The stated reentry speed is about half that, but the stated "duration of entry" is four minutes, so apparently the video only covers half the track in the flight plan.

So when the video begins this satellite is 1500 km from the observation plane, and at the end it's 1000 km away. The (intact) satellite was 10 m long, about like a bus; from that distance it would subtend an angle 10-5 radian. This is the same angular size as a red blood cell held at arm's length. What's visible in the video is the fireball, which might be a hundred times bigger than the satellite itself. Maybe the whole thing would be as big in the sky as this dot . on your computer, depending on whether you're leaning forward or backward.

That helps explain the jitter. There's a lot of expertise in observing stars and planets from planes at high altitude, but they're not moving; here both the observation point and the subject of the observation are moving, the exact path of the satellite through the atmosphere is one of the research questions, and a big uncertainty is the exact position of the plane itself. I think keeping all of the vibration within a . is pretty impressive.

Also, pretty colors.

The other possible entry path on the flight plan, with the satellite breaking up maybe 30 km directly overhead from the planes, would have had EVEN MORE AWESOME.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 7:53 AM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Apparently the reentry was also filmed from two observation planes and from the ISS itself, though, so presumably they've got some better footage waiting in the can.

Funny, when I wrote that I was thinking that the ISS might be a good platform to view the fireworks. It's be pretty far away, though... you'd need a big lens. Also, it's easier to see things against the backdrop of night than it is against clouds, land and water. Then I thought they could use planes, but that it might be too dangerous to be in a pressurized cabin with chunks of flaming debris falling towards you. Though I imagine the trajectory for most of the debris is all along the same vector, so you could just shoot it from a side angle.

But then I was thinking, it would just be a lot easier and cooler if they simply strapped a video camera to the thing and filmed it going in. You could get away with a simple heat shield if you point the camera backwards.

I dunno. I'm not a rocket scientist.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:35 AM on October 1, 2008


Since the ISS orbits at an altitude 350 km, and the breakup happened at 40 or 50 km, the ISS might have actually been closer than the observation plane. Depends on how long the ISS and ATV orbits had to diverge.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 12:14 PM on October 1, 2008


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