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Answers Your Questions

From: Elaine, of Savannah, Ga.
To: Kelly Beck, flight director

Question: When I see the space station pass over my city as a bright light, what is the light that I see? Is it reflected light from light panels?

Answer: Hi Elaine,

When you see the International Space Station, the space shuttle or other satellites for that matter, what you are seeing most of the time is reflected light. The light can be reflected from any of the surfaces on the vehicle. For the station, as you point out, the solar panels are the largest surface and the greatest reflector of light. This is why not all passes over your area may be visible. The vehicle may be in an unfavorable attitude for light to be reflected and thus the vehicle may not be visible.

If you are interested in viewing opportunities, the following link will help you find them:

If you are lucky, you may have the opportunity during the mission to see both vehicles in the sky at the same time either prior to the rendezvous or after they undock.

Best wishes

Darrel Monroe, Navigation

View a list of answered questions or ask MCC your own question.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 06/09/2002
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