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
16k 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 ...
52
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1answer
7k 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 ...
49
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1answer
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Why is there a Saturn V in the background of this Gemini-Titan launch?

In this photo, a Gemini-Titan is lifting off in the foreground, while a Saturn V is visible in the background. The last Gemini flight was in late 1966, but the first flight of a Saturn V wasn't ...
48
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2answers
12k 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 ...
37
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1answer
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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 ...
37
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1answer
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Why does the Minotaur I wear a yellow jacket that "banana-peels" off as it launches?

Videos available of the recent Minotaur I launch at Wallops for NROL-111 show a yellow jacket on most of the four stage SRB-to-orbit launch vehicle. I read or heard somewhere that wires attached to ...
32
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1answer
5k views

What are the 'lights' inside Shuttle main engines at landing?

I have a night-landing photo of the Shuttle showing lights (I assume some type of glow-plug to burn off extraneous fuel). My understanding is that only the OMS engines burn to begin reentry. Can ...
32
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1answer
6k 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 ...
27
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2answers
3k views

Apollo Command Module heatshield tube - what was it for?

I went to the Science Museum in London last year, where I saw (amongst many other wonderful things!) the Apollo 10 CM, Charlie Brown. Looking at the heat shield, I saw two circular indentations with a ...
26
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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 ...
26
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3answers
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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 ...
25
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2answers
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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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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 ...
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
7k 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 ...
23
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1answer
6k 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: ...
22
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2answers
5k 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 ...
22
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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 ...
22
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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 ...
22
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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 ...
22
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1answer
1k views

Identify these mission photos

My grandfather who was involved with the DFVLR (now DLR) had all sorts of space-memorabilia in his basement, including a roll of pictures I've found. Does anyone know what mission they are from and ...
21
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2answers
8k views

What are these things fired away from a ballistic missile at launch?

Here is a youtube video of the start of a Russian Topol-M ballistic missile. A lot of little strange things are fired away from the rocket body when the rocket is half-way from its transport-launch ...
19
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1answer
2k 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 ...
18
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1answer
11k views

What are SpaceX's Starship's header tanks?

In the Everyday Astronaut video A conversation with Elon Musk about Starship after about 13:00 Musk shows Dodd a cell phone video that he shot in the top(?) of the ...
16
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2answers
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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
3k views

Cartoon-like characters on the side of the Tianwen-1 Mars lander?

Scott Manley's excellent new video China's Mars Rover Zhurong Has Completed Its Primary Mission, Reaches New Milestone is chock-full of space-sleuthing goodies and interesting information about the ...
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
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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 ...
14
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1answer
3k views

Did astronaut Scott Kelley eat cake in space?

From what I understand and remember the first cookies baked in space were returned to Earth for testing and I think part of the reason that no cookies baked on the ISS's oven could be eaten is that ...
14
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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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2answers
1k views

What is this long truss associated with Mir?

Google translations: From roscosmos.ru Flight from station to station (Перелет со станции на станцию) 35 years ago, on February 20, 1986, the first module of the Mir orbital complex was launched into ...
13
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2answers
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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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2answers
2k 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. ...
13
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1answer
3k views

What is this unlikely-looking contraption ("plutonium battery and scientific equipment") they're making Jim Lovell cary around a parking lot?

The BBC's Did nuclear spy devices in the Himalayas trigger India floods contains the following image and caption. Questions: What scientific equipment and which plutonium battery is this? Since this ...
13
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2answers
791 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 ...
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
1k views

What is your name? What is your quest? What is the story behind Satellite 1963-38C?

Source see also the page On Possible Electric Phenomena in Solar Systems and Nebulae By Kristian Birkeland extracted from The Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition 1902-1903 (Book) Wikipedia's ...
13
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1answer
3k 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 ...
13
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1answer
2k views

What spacesuit helmet is this?

There's a classic series of black-and-white photos from the mid-80s showing early shuttle astronaut Anna Fisher in a helmet; one was reportedly on the cover of Life magazine. Image source: reddit, ...
12
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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 ...
12
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1answer
1k views

Viking Lander descent engine design feature

The Viking Lander Terminal Descent Engine (3 per vehicle) was a ~600 lbf monopropellant hydrazine engine with an unusual exhaust system of 18 small nozzles. Multiple sources state that the reason ...
12
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2answers
595 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 ...
12
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1answer
396 views

What is this device/object that the SpaceX astronauts are holding?

Watching the SpaceX Demo-2 launch preparation livestream, I saw both Bob and Doug using some sort of little gadget. It looks like a chunky cell phone, or a flat gopro. It appears to have an LCD on the ...
11
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1answer
1k views

What's the small white gadget with two black buttons in this video of the International Space Station?

Does anyone know what's the small white square gadget with two black buttons on the right hand side of the hatch frame in this video on the second 2185 (36:25 minutes)? ...
11
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1answer
2k views

What is this propeller-like object on top of the SpaceX Hopper?

In the spirit of Why does this rocket have a nose cone “cozy”? I'd like to ask why the SpaceX Hopper has a propellor on top, or at least something that looks reminiscent of Beany's propeller. What is ...
11
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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 ...
11
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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 ...
11
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2answers
355 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?
11
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1answer
2k 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 their 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 ...

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