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.

May 25, 1996

The Shuttle Launches an Inflatable Antenna
Credit: STS-77 Crew, Space Shuttle Endeavor, NASA

Explanation: High above the Earth the Space Shuttle Endeavor launches a new type of instrument - an inflatable antenna. The officially designated Inflatable Antenna Experiment was released Monday, May 20th, as part of a Spartan satellite - which contains many scientific experiments. The antenna is roughly the size of a tennis court and is even visible from Earth. At the end of the mission, the antenna will be jettisoned while the rest of the Spartan is recovered by the Shuttle. The function of an antenna is to broadcast radio messages, and the large dish at the end helps focus radio waves into a narrow beam which can be detected over long distances.

Tomorrow's picture: Alpha Centauri: The Closest Star System

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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.