Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2001 October 2
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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A Flying Astronaut Over Earth
Credit: Shuttle Crew STS-64, NASA

Explanation: What would it be like to fly free over the seas and clouds of Earth? In 1994 astronaut Mark Lee found out when he tested the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER) system for NASA. SAFER is a backpack propulsion unit that incorporates small nitrogen thrusters controlled by hand and moderated by computer. Pictured, Lee jets about the bay of Space Shuttle Discovery, over 200 kilometers above Earth in the first untethered space walk in ten years. Lee was not in danger -- the shuttle could have been used to retrieve him. SAFER, smaller than the Manned Maneuvering Unit, is designed as a backup system to help astronauts in the unlikely event that they become too separated from their work outside the International Space Station.

Tomorrow's picture: Planetary Nebula Show

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.