Questions tagged [identify-this-object]

Questions which ask for an object in a photograph or other media to be identified and/or have its function described.

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53
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4answers
13k views

“Pillars of Baikonur” What is the purpose of the hundreds of short, white posts near the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad?

The caption given in the third image included in the Space.com page Expedition 56: The Space Station Mission in Photos reads as follows: At the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad, remote-controlled ...
50
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1answer
6k views

Did a Soyuz fly with a Union Jack?

In this schematic of a Soyuz rocket, the payload fairing is depicted with the flag of the USSR on one side, and what appears to be the flag of the United Kingdom on the other. Did the Soyuz ever fly ...
46
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2answers
10k views

What caused this bright light from the ground at night seen from the ISS?

The music video on the NASA Johnson YouTube channel The Sound (& Visions) of Silence shows images and video of Earth taken from the ISS by astronauts Sergey Ryazanskiy, Paolo Nespoli, and ...
33
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1answer
6k views

Why does there appear to be a 180-degree stereo microphone array outside the ISS?

I was watching a feed on the latest footage of Hurricane Matthew as seen from the ISS just now, relayed from NASA TV. Suddenly, I spotted something poking out of the ISS hull in the footage that ...
30
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1answer
4k views

What is this large fan in front of the Space Shuttle during Ground Turnaround?

In this amazing video of multiple camera angles of Endeavour landing and post-landing processing, at around the 15:45–15:56 minute mark, we see a large propeller running in front of the Orbiter. It ...
25
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2answers
6k views

What spacecraft control is Margaret Hamilton pressing in this picture?

Margaret Hamilton was the Apollo Director of Software Engineering. In this picture, she is shown inside a mock-up of the Apollo command module. Hamilton is noted for many accomplishments during the ...
25
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2answers
3k views

What's on the bottom of the Shuttle's external fuel tank?

In the Wikipedia article about Spaceplane there's a (rare and cool) shot of the Space Shuttle from one of the SBRs immediately after it was released. The web page for the image says: Space Shuttle ...
25
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2answers
3k views

What is the function of this (apparently) fixed dish on the ISS?

I saw this image in Popular Science, one of the example photos from the book by astronaut/photographer/astrophotographer(?) Donald Pettit. It's beautiful and impressive not only from a color/...
24
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1answer
3k views

In this iconic lunar orbit rendezvous photo of John Houbolt, why do arrows #5 and #6 point the “wrong” way?

The NPR.org news item Meet John Houbolt: He Figured Out How To Go To The Moon, But Few Were Listening shows the iconic photo of John Houbolt next to a black board showing a free return scenario. I ...
24
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1answer
6k views

Why is this part of the Space Shuttle launch pad suspended so high off the ground?

http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/sts-107/images/high/KSC-02PD-1894.jpg shows a large part of the launch pad suspended off the ground. What is it for and why is there all that empty space ...
24
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2answers
6k views

What is the purpose of the rotating dish antenna on the ISS

I just saw some footage of the ISS in which a dish antenna could be seen, constantly rotating. The dish looked more-or-less parabolic, meaning that it is presumably sending/receiving along a fairly ...
23
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1answer
5k views

What celestial body did NASA carve and why is it eating a spacecraft?

The Mashable.com article No one carves a Halloween pumpkin like NASA engineers shows several interesting examples. But this one I can't figure out. The caption reads only. Om nom nom. Question: ...
21
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1answer
2k views

Function of the separated, individual solar cells on Telstar 1 and 2? Why were they “special”?

The image below shows a part of a backup satellite for Telstar 1 and 2. In addition to the many small and highly segmented solar panels, there are what look like individual elements of the same kind ...
21
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1answer
2k views

What are the small gas jets at the rims of the Space Shuttle Main Engines?

As can be seen in close-up footage of SSME ignition, such as the video below, there are small jets of an unknown gas/vapor emanating from specific points around the ...
20
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1answer
4k views

What were the “pills” that were added to solid waste in Apollo 7?

In the BBC News Worldservice podcast 10, 9, 8, 7: The dramatic missions that made the Moon landing possible told by retired astronaut Nicole Stott (Expeditions 20, 21, STS-128 and STS-133) after ...
20
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1answer
2k views

What is the function of the corrugations on a section of the Space Shuttle's external tank?

There is a section of the Space Shuttle's external tank that appears to have large corrugations. I spotted them and saw how deep they are in a photo in this answer, a cropped section of which is shown ...
16
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2answers
4k views

Does anyone recognize these rockets, and their location?

I clicked an advertisement in the sidebar of an Economist article and it took me to this infomercial from Mitsubishi Heavy Industry Group's Spectra website How new technology is democratizing access ...
15
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1answer
1k views

What was the purpose of the small red tank attached to the Titan-Centaur launcher?

Watching a documentary on the Viking missions, I noticed the launcher had a small red tank/rocket attached to one of the solid boosters. It struck me as an odd feature/placement, as I thought you'd ...
15
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1answer
2k views

What's the shiny silver turnip on the bottom of this Ariane 5 launcher?

The beautiful cutaway drawing included in this answer shows a metallic turnip-shaped object attached to the bottom of the Ariane V core stage. What is that object?
14
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2answers
3k views

What are they doing to this rocket following its test fire?

Watching video of today's test of Northrop Grumman's OmegA first stage SRB after the test is over and the flames have died down a bit, it looks like they are sticking something into the back end of ...
13
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2answers
2k views

What happens differently when ISS is inside this red boundary (Russia & Europe & …)?

The question Why are there advertisements in the Russian ISS flight control room? shows the image below. There is a large red boundary that looks like the boundary of the overlap of several circles ...
13
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1answer
3k views

What is Earthy controlling in the ISS cupola?

ScienceAlert.com's Astronauts on The Space Station Liked SpaceX's 'Earthy' Toy So Much They Kidnapped It shows a series of photos of Earthy, the new plushy member of the ISS crew. In the photo below ...
13
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1answer
2k views

What are these tiny triangular fins on the Soyuz launcher?

What are the small triangular fins on the lowest part of the boosters of the Soyuz 2.1 rocket? What function do they have? I circled one of them in the upper image here. They are not visible in the ...
13
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1answer
2k views

What are these air-vent-like structures on this satellite?

I struck out with my previous question so I'll try again. What are these large circular 4-vane structures on the sides of NOAA-19 - the satellite that "fell down"? They remind me of adjustable air ...
12
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2answers
712 views

What is the large circular device with a dozen concentric circles on Sentinel 3B?

The Spaceflight Now article Photos: Sentinel 3B satellite prepared for launch from Plesetsk Cosmodrome has of course lots of photos. One of them shows a dish antenna covered with shiny, metallized ...
11
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2answers
1k views

Features seen on the Space Shuttle's solid booster; what does “LOADED” mean exactly?

The question Please explain the time reference shown in Shuttle launch engineering video links to the very cool video Ascent - Commemorating Shuttle. After about ...
11
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1answer
1k views

What is this instrument on the ISS?

In this image (NASA original source) from the International Space Station. what is the "lightning rod"-like instrument at the end of the mast in the upper right of the photo?
11
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2answers
4k views

What is Astronaut Sunita Williams wearing on her wrist?

The most recent installment of NPR's Brave New Workers A NASA Astronaut Stays In Orbit With SpaceX And Boeing (article & podcast) covers Astronaut Sunita Williams extremely cool new job. She's ...
11
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1answer
565 views

Design of 1970s era orbital fuel depot

Multiple concept art examples for a 1970s orbital fuel depot from Marshall Space Flight Center show cylindrical tanks perpendicular to a central core. But then at one end of the central core are ...
11
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2answers
438 views

What does this SpaceX tweeted photo show and what causes the pure red and blue color?

This May 4, 2019 SpaceX tweet says More photos from Falcon 9’s 40th successful launch from Pad 40 in Florida and 39th first stage rocket booster landing to date → http://flickr.com/spacex and ...
10
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2answers
1k views

What are these circular spots on these Ariane V SRB nozzles?

This Space Shuttle Almanac tweet says: Pics 1-4 of todays @Arianespace #ArianeV VA249 launch carrying the #EDRSC & #Intelsat39 comsats from Kourou and includes the cool (hot) image below. ...
10
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2answers
2k views

What antenna is this in an Apollo 15 LM photo?

The video Apollo 15 landing from PDI to Touchdown (found in Why did the Apollo 15 LM violently shake & raise dust after the contact probes touched the lunar surface?) seems to pan across a still ...
10
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1answer
2k views

What is under these four white covers on the upper part of the Orion capsule?

The New York Times article A NASA Journey to the Moon May Need to Find Another Rocket or Two shows an image of the Orion capsule in a file photo, along with the NASA director. There are four white ...
10
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1answer
2k views

What are the two orange tabs stuck on opposite edges of each window of the ISS cupola?

The YouTube video ONE OF THE MOST DETAILED ISS TOUR!!! is cited in several Q&A here, and shows a tour and explanation of the ISS by astronaut Steven Swanson. Today I noticed between ...
10
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2answers
275 views

What is this balloon for in this clean room and what is the proper name for the “stand” that is holding the satellite?

What is this balloon doing in this clean room and what is the proper name for the "stand" (white & blue) that is holding the satellite?
10
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1answer
2k views

What is the object protruding from the left side of the payload fairing during ULA Atlas V 501 AFSPC-5 launch?

OK, What is it? I have not noticed it on previous launches. It's also visible in AFSPC-5 launch videos, for example in this one: And it also comes into view ...
10
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2answers
341 views

What likely is the chemical composition of the thin piece of material on the surface of Mars on the image below?

Note: The MAHLI images below were acquired when both the two groups of white light LEDs and the ultraviolet LEDs were off. When looking for the damage on the wheels of Curiosity on the raw images i ...
9
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3answers
2k views

What is this spacecraft tethered to another spacecraft in LEO (vintage)

In the really nice video Brian Eno on Apollo at 03:40 there is (possibly Apollo-era but not necessarily Apollo) footage of a spacecraft tethered to another ...
9
votes
2answers
839 views

Apollo Mission Operations Control Room 2 display, what do these numbers indicate?

There are some really beautiful photos in Ars Technica's NASA’s restored Apollo Mission Control is a slice of ’60s life, frozen in amber See also NYTimes' NASA Reopens Apollo Mission Control Room ...
9
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1answer
2k views

What are these stacked panels on the ISS in this image?

I found this image of the ISS in a folder on my computer. I don't know the exact source but a reverse image search shows it in many different websites. Unfortunately I can't pin down a date. What are ...
9
votes
1answer
800 views

Atlas Rocket Burning Hose

I was just watching The Right Stuff for the 100th time,and I've always wondered what is that hose spewing flame/burning propellant out of the bottom of the rocket. It's definitely not an engine,and ...
9
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1answer
2k views

What is the white spray-pattern residue inside these Falcon Heavy nozzles?

What is the white residue in a spray pattern seen on the inside of each nozzle of each side core of this Falcon Heavy image from the Teslarati article SpaceX reveals Falcon Heavy Block 5 in first ...
9
votes
1answer
280 views

Function of this big pointy thing on the Titan Transtage? Do other upper stages have something similar?

Jonathan McDowell's tweet Six more debris objects from Transtage 17 cataloged. Here is the Gabbard diagram showing apogee and perigee for each piece - green line is the GEO altitude led me to ...
9
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1answer
259 views

What are the small red cylinders used for on the bottom of the Soyuz Launch vehicle?

They are fitted on each of the first stage strap on boosters and on the second stage core and are all orientated the same way. Pipes and cables connect to the stages from the cylinders. I believe they ...
9
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0answers
189 views

What is the utility of this peanut-shaped ground facility?

The following image is from GSLV-F11 GSAT-7A Mission: Location: Second Launch Pad (SLP), Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, India. Please click here in case you want to see the image in ISRO's ...
8
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6answers
3k views

What is “propulsive passivation” and why will the SpaceX STP-2 mission do it?

The Teslarati article SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy flies a complex mission for the Air Force in launch video discusses the upcoming third Falcon Heavy mission STP-2 and quotes the caption on the linked ...
8
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1answer
638 views

What are the features on X-37 fairing/transport jig

Is the structure on the bottom side of the X-37 in this photo a launch fairing or a transport jig? In either case, what are the arrays of transparent-looking round things on it?
8
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1answer
373 views

Are mechanical pencils used on the ISS?

I have read through this question ("Is it possible to use mechanical pencil instead of space pen in ISS?") and it seems that without specially made pencils, it's unlikely as there are better options. ...
8
votes
1answer
252 views

Why does the Electron rocket throw sparks; especially at SECO?

The RocketLab YouTube video STP-27RD Launch - 05/05/2019 shows the exhaust plume from the second stage engine evolve as the atmospheric pressure drops. During this time there are frequent outbursts of ...
7
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2answers
2k views

What was this capsule dropped from a truck?

I've been watching the PBS American Experience documentary, and they showed a brief clip of some accidents at NASA. One involved a capsule being carried on the back of a truck, on some kind of crane. ...