Eye In The Sky
Eye In The Sky: Is it a meteor? Is it a plane? It might be the International Space Station (ISS) Keep your eyes to the sky tonight as the biggest and brightest satellite you can see with the naked eye from earth is visible in the sky from South Africa from 29 June until 7 July. The International Space Station (ISS) weighs 453 592 kg and spans 108.8 meters; as large as a football field but from earth will look like just a normal star. Because of this size, the huge structure reflects a large amount of sunlight in the sky and can be seen as a big bright star in the sky. Several times a week, Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, determines sighting opportunities for over 6,700 locations worldwide.
Every so often, the ISS becomes visible in the night sky. To us on Earth, it looks like a bright star moving quickly above the horizon. The ISS is so bright, it can even been seen from the center of a city. Then, just as suddenly as it appeared, it disappears. On-orbit construction of the station began in 1998, and is scheduled to be complete by 2011, with operations continuing until around 2015. More than four times as large as the defunct Russian Mir space station, the completed International Space Station will ultimately have a mass of about 1,040,000 pounds (520 tons) and will measure 356 feet across and 290 feet long, with almost an acre of solar panels to provide electrical power to six state-of-the-art laboratories. Presently circling the Earth at an average altitude of 216 mi (348 km) and at a speed of 17,200 mi (27,700 km) per hour, it completes 15.7 orbits per day and it can appear to move as fast as a high-flying jet airliner, sometimes taking about four to five minutes to cross the sky. Because of its size and configuration of highly reflective solar panels, the space station is now, by far, the brightest man-made object currently in orbit around the Earth.