During return to Earth of the Shuttle Orbiter Columbia, March 30, 1982, an airborne infrared telescope made this image of its heating patterns aboard NASA's Kuiper Airborne Observatory, a Lockheed C-141 Starlifter aircraft specially equipped with a 91.5-cm (36-in.) aperture Cassegrain-type reflector telescope.
The Kuiper Observatory aircraft made the image as Columbia raced overhead at a height of 56 kilometers (185,000 feet) at a speed of Mach 15.6.
For comparison purposes the heat image has been fuzionned with an illustration. Nose and main landing gear doors are plainly visible on the left side, as are the leading edge thermal protection surfaces and the elevon hinge area. The dots enclosed by white circles (near the nose and just right of the elevon hinge toward the center line) are the umbilical connectors for mounting the Orbiter on the Boeing 747 ferry aircraft. The vertical black lines toward the outside of the wing/elevon on the heat image side (right) were caused by two inoperative sensor channels.
This space shuttle will be destroyed in 2003 during return due to an insulation damage.
Thermography of the safe landing of an american space shuttle.
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