Re: Shuttle+Hubble Thursday evening Texas

Robert Reeves (
Fri, 24 Dec 1999 09:23:32 -0600

> My not-too-well informed speculations on faintness of Shuttle+Hubble:
> 1. Greater, possibly by 50%, distance between observer and Shuttle 
>    than usual mission

Yes, this is a factor, but not enough to render it nearly invisible to
some observers.

> 2. Configuration such that for some passes HST shades Shuttle and/or
>    Shuttle tail shades HST

The Shuttle is essentially upsidedown and backwards to the direction
of travel when the spacewalks are in progress.  So when STS/HST 
passes over Texas just after sundown, both are illuminated from the
dirrection of the orbiter's nose.   HST is fully shadded by STS only at 
local high noon.

> 3. HST solar panels not deployed (folded or rolled up)

They are fully deployed and orriented at 90 degrees to the HST body 
and flat relative to the orbiter.

> 4. Some passes with Shuttle's black (still black?) nose towards 
>    observer, or the tail, with engine nozzles -- not very good 
>    reflectors

During the spacewalks, It rises over our western horizon with the 
engines facing us (here in Texas) and when it sets on the eastern 
horison the nose is pointed toward us.  Other times, when there are 
no space walks it can be in free drift, but the past two days, the 
spacewalks have been in progress during visible Texas passes.

So in a nutshell, none of the above reasons fully explain why
some folks have been unable to see a spacecraft combination
that should stand out like a sore thumb.  HST alone is usually 1st
magnitude during high passes, now the STS/HST combined seem 
much dimmer to many observers.  It has to be some sort of mutual
shadowing events relative to the spacecraft orientation.  I'd say
its a fluke peculiar to this mission.

<G> Or the conspiracy theorists can now have a field day saying
NASA TV is faked and in space the whole assembly has been cloaked 
in a black shroud to keep us from seeing that the mission is really
modifying HST into a giant downward-pointing domestic spysat to
track Y2K urban chaos. <G!>

Robert Reeves  
520 Rittiman Rd.
San Antonio, TX          210-828-9036       
78209   U.S.A.            29.484N  98.440W  200 meters

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