At 6:04 a.m. CST Nov. 2 the Einstein cargo ship harmlessly burned up in Earth’s atmosphere over an uninhabited part of the Pacific Ocean. You’ll recall the ship docked to the International Space Station last June to deliver fuel, food and equipment; it was ‘de-orbited’ 5 months later on Oct. 28 carrying 1.6 tons of waste. While it’s unlikely anyone saw it from the ground, eyes from above got a fabulous view.
After undocking, the ship was put through a series of delicate maneuvers over a period of 5 days to position it directly under the space station. Once its controlled descent began, astronauts on board the station readied cameras ready to record the craft’s spectacular disintegration.
The photos begin when Einstein was 62 miles (100 km) below the station or about 195 miles (313 km) high. Notice how the whole ship looks like a giant meteor at first, but as it breaks into bits, each piece becomes its own smaller meteor until the whole grows into massive swarm of flaming debris. Burning trash never looked so beautiful!
Scientists went through the trouble of lining up the two spacecraft and having photos taken to learn more about what happens to spacecraft upon reentry. The last time NASA and ESA photographed a returning cargo ship was in 2008.
Video made from the complete set of re-entry photos made by Vladimir Jankijevic
Click HERE to see the complete set of high resolution pictures of the event or watch it flash by in the awesome video made by Vladimir Jankijevic, one of our readers.