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Shuttle Discovery: Earth Image of the Week April 8, 2011
Astronaut photo of Shuttle Discovery.
Shuttle Discovery orbiting over Tibet, as seen from the International Space Station.
Space Shuttle Discovery was NASA’s Orbital Fleet leader, flying 39 successful missions over 27 years of service.

She returned to Earth for the last time and was decommissioned on March 9, 2011. During Discovery’s operational period, she logged a total of 365 days in space, the longest period for any spacecraft in the world.

Discovery carried the Hubble Space Telescope aloft in 1990, and later transported a crew to service it in 1999.

The last few years of Discovery missions were to help construct and supply the International Space Station. Her final mission will be to sit on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

The image of the astronautical veteran to the right was taken during her next-to-last mission a year ago. Sporting open payload doors, the shuttle was passing over Tibet at an altitude of about 185 nautical miles.

The photograph was taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station as Discovery was making its final approach for docking on April 7, 2010.

Visible on the surface are several lakes in one of the most remote locations in the world. Still visible in early spring were patches of ice on the southern shore of lake Garing Tso.

The photograph was taken from an angle that has north in the bottom of the image and south at the top.

Full story and image: NASA