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I spotted this tiny, articulated dish antenna-like thing on the Zvezda module of the ISS while looking around for images for here. It looks like it's associated with and/or pointing in the same direction as the big shiny concave cone below it and the black antireflection-coated cone to the right (camera?).

Ideas?

Original, full size, uncropped image: http://iss.jaxa.jp/spacerad/images/img_dos01_e.jpg

Source/Location: http://iss.jaxa.jp/spacerad/EI004.html

enter image description here

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It seems to be the Kurs Antenna used to align Soyuz and Progress while docking.

Russian vehicles have the same antenna as depicted in this picture, we clearly see the alignment of those on the right of the picture.

Progress docking with the ISS

Source of the picture: Wikipedia

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer! Thank you for the POV image also. It has inspired a follow-up question. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 21 '17 at 7:09
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That antenna is actually on the Docking Compartment (Pirs), not the Service Module, and is part of the Kurs automated docking system. Note how it lines up with the antenna on the Progress in this picture.

The "shiny concave cone" is the docking system interface for the "probe" on the Soyuz/Progress vehicles, and the black cone is a window in the Service Module.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Sweet! The action shot really helps highlight the function, thanks for that. Also this angle is much better. Now I can understand that there are two different modules shown the photo in the question. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 20 '17 at 11:50
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    $\begingroup$ Orienting yourself on the outside of the ISS can be extremely difficult based on camera angles, etc. Part of what made robotics ops so much fun. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jun 20 '17 at 13:11
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    $\begingroup$ I'd image that just bob the end of the robot up and down like an owl isn't an option. I can't image it, I'd get so disoriented. Perhaps these cameras can be added on in the future, although they require synchronization to a modulated (LED) light source. electronics.stackexchange.com/q/288338/102305 $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 20 '17 at 14:09
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    $\begingroup$ Canada tried to make a "Space Vision System" that used targets on the ISS, software in the Robotics Workstation, and camera inputs to synthesize a 3-d environment but it turned out to be a failure. spacedaily.com/news/iss-98j.html But they may try it again, apparently. aerospace-technology.com/news/… $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jun 20 '17 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ But the Service module had such an antenna for Pirs to dock to, didn't it? $\endgroup$ – geoffc Jun 20 '17 at 18:11

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