Object near Gemini XI spacecraft?

johne1618

Active Member
This photo (frame 33) was taken from the Gemini XI spacecraft on Sep 14, 1966 at ground elapsed time (GET) "46:15".

What is the object in the top left corner?

Apparently, according to the image description, an astronaut was standing up through an open hatch at the time with the other hatch door in view together with the L-Band Antenna on the docked Agena vehicle and a blue 70mm UV camera on a neck strap in the foreground.

I think the photo was taken by an astronaut from outside the Gemini spacecraft so this is not a reflection on a window. The black horizontal line at the top of the photo that cuts across the top left of the object is the edge of the frame.

Source: https://tothemoon.ser.asu.edu/gallery/Gemini/11/Hasselblad Super-Wide Camera 70 mm

gem1.jpg

Blow-up

blowup.jpg

gem1_desc.jpg
The next frame taken at time "46:55", which I presume is 40 seconds later, shows an outside view looking down the nose of the spacecraft to the docked Agena vehicle which was used for practicing space maneuvers.

gem2.jpg

gem2_desc.jpg
Here is an example of a photo from an earlier orbit (26) on the same day taken from inside the spacecraft showing reflections from objects inside the capsule.

reflect.jpg

reflect_desc.jpg
 
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NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
It looks like it could be a reflection of some kind. I made some adjustments to your blow up photo as shown below. Note the almost completely horizontal line across the top of the "thing". It's a hard line that may be the opened hatch? Those definitely look like reflected lights.

blowupadjust.jpg

Look at your photo of the reflected camera. It's different because the sun or some other bright light is helping to make the reflection more prominent. But look below the camera and there is at least one dim light, if not several being reflected form what appears to be some sort of control board.

Screenshot_20221105_051017.png

Without the bright sun interfering with the original photo, the reflection from some lights inside the craft may appear brighter.

Here is what I did with your blowup photo to bring out the horizontal line:

1667693045201.png
 

johne1618

Active Member
It looks like it could be a reflection of some kind. I made some adjustments to your blow up photo as shown below. Note the almost completely horizontal line across the top of the "thing". It's a hard line that may be the opened hatch? Those definitely look like reflected lights.
I think the horizontal line at the top of the blow-up photo is the top edge of the frame.

I don’t think it’s a reflection from the inside of a window as the photo seems to have been taken from outside the spacecraft.
 
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Landru

Moderator
Staff member
I think the horizontal line at the top of the blow-up photo is the top edge of the frame.

I don’t think it’s a reflection from the inside of a window as the photo seems to have been taken from outside the spacecraft.
This is a common practice with you. "What do you guys think?" Followed by possible explanations then you saying, "I don't think so." Or you just leave the conversation .
 

tinkertailor

Senior Member.
@johne1618 Could you please do me a favor and visually demonstrate what you think this craft would look like, given that you don't think it is an internal reflection? A drawing, a crude model made with pots and pans, a picture from someone else's sighting, anything? If you don't think it's a reflection, the burden is on  you to demonstrate what it is, then.

I ask because I can't imagine how this would be an interstellar craft. I've been into UFO stuff for a long time, and have never seen any drawing of an observed UFO this rough. They are almost entirely smooth. This, on the other hand, looks very much like the kind of thing NASA puts together.

I just want to see where you're coming from. Please, give me something here. I don't even care if you do it in a few weeks, just don't disappear from this thread. Show us what you see.

Edit: by "smooth" I mean physically smooth and also more futuristically smooth, simple design. I'm sure someone has seen a rough UFO before.
 

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
I think the horizontal line at the top of the blow-up photo is the top edge of the frame.
Yeah, could be. I still think it's a reflection. Take a look at this mock up of the Gemini control panel. There is even a series of lights along the left side that sort of line up with the reflection:

1667783457303.png

The panel above appears to be located between the 2 windows just visible in the upper corners of this photo:

1667783885775.png

That would put it directly below the opened hatch:

1667783986814.png

Note the light from the control panel up lighting these guys faces. If they were sitting there while taking the picture then...
1667785254149.png
 

Hevach

Senior Member.
My guess is that row of lights on the left of the pedestal panel, there even seems to be a slightly arched reflection that could be the corner of the first gauge next to them. However there might be one other possibility.

There's two versions of the control panel, both have that particular row of lights. One version has a second horizontal row of similar lights on the right main instrument panel.

https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/capsule-gemini-vii/nasm_A19680273000
Here they are visible on Gemini VII, on the right below the handrail next to the navball.


https://space1.com/About_Us/In_the_Works/Gemini_Panel_Sim/gemini_panel_sim.html
Gemini XII lacked those, however.


I would expect Gemini XI to have the second configuration, but can't confirm. The capsule resides at the California Science Center and they only have images available of the exterior.

Edit: Tracking back through the missions, Gemini X and IX also lack clear interior images, but Gemini VIII has this. You can just make out the guard bar with the two red rollers on it, indicating that VIII had the second version of the control panel, meaning the rest likely did as well, which would eliminate the right panel lights.
 
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johne1618

Active Member
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purpleivan

Active Member
I'm thought I'd try to pin down the things that can be identified in the photo in the OP.

This site https://spacecollection.weebly.com/gemini-11.html describes the following content for that image (search for "S66-54554" instead of the longer photo name in the OP).
"Gemini 11 (color) view of Standup EVA, hatch open; L-band antenna, hatch door, 70-mm (Blue) Maurer, UV camera."

The blue object seems to be a 70 mm Maurer UV camera, details of which can be seen here.
https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/camera-maurer-70mm-gemini-ix-xii/nasm_A19761794000

That link has a photo of a grey version, but the spacecollection.weebly.com page includes "(Blue)" in it's description, which seems a match to this version of the camera.
https://www.agefotostock.com/age/en...acuum-conditions-and-obtain/GXC-JMH-JF-132669

The contents of the photo listed in the spacecollection.weebly.com page also includes L-band antenna (correctly identified in the OP) which is on the Agena target vehicle, as well as "hatch door". I'm wondering if that's referring to the mystery object, as all other visible objects seem to be listed.


I also searched for a higher resolution version of the OP's image and found one at this link.
https://nara.getarchive.net/media/gemini-xi-mission-image-stand-up-eva-fb8178

I was unable to save the image from that page, so grabbed a screencap of it.
1667809850624.png

For reference I'm identifying the following parts of the photo as below.
Gemini 11 object.png

To me it appears as if the mystery object is a metallic surface, probably two straight sections meeting in a curved section (the bright parts).

I did some further searching for images of the Gemini 11 hatch and found this image of the right hand one (although as commander, Dick Gordon, who took the photo, would have sat in the left seat) from that mission at https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/hatch-right-hand-gemini-11/nasm_A19680260001.
1667810928471.png

Unfortunately it's a pretty low resolution image and doesn't show it's attachment point to the vehicle, but here's another (although of Gemini 10 training) that I found here https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3b/Gemini_10_Williams_training.jpg
1667811052622.png

I did think for a while that the reflection might have been of the interior edge of the hatch window, due to the curved corners, but it doesn't look like it protrudes enough for it to be visible in the OP's pic and not have other parts of the inside of the hatch in view as well.

Possibly it's another part of the hatch that I'm not seeing, or something else attached to the vehicle, or sticking out of the hatch during Gordon's standup EVA.
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/window-gemini-ix/nasm_A19731053000
Gemini windows did have three panes, the bottommost light has three distinct reflections.

This is the window for the right hand hatch of the Gemini IX capsule, which flew in space in June 1966. The window's outer glass assembly had a single pane and the inner glass assembly had two panes. All three panes in the right hand hatch window were optically ground for better resolution. Corning Glass made the panes of Vycor, which was 96% silica.
Content from External Source
Nice - I'm glad I upped the ante and mentioned the triple possibility, because I was getting that vibe from the photo.
 

Ravi

Senior Member.
I think all images were taken from inside the Gemini capsule.
A glass pane gives 2 reflections, and thus 3 panes is 3x2=6. I think the OP image does show that amount.
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
I think all images were taken from inside the Gemini capsule.
A glass pane gives 2 reflections, and thus 3 panes is 3x2=6. I think the OP image does show that amount.
crop.jpg
The different sides reflect differently - here are the three reflections off my triple-glazing of a single bulb inside a curved glass fixture which provides the other distorted reflections.
 

Ravi

Senior Member.
@FatPhil

True. I cut some corners. The reflections (they are internal reflections) from the backsides are much less strong.

I guess my argument for it being a reflection is a bit weak.
 

johne1618

Active Member
I think it can't be a reflection in a window as it was taken from outside the spacecraft.

Here are two reasons:
  1. The image description says it was Stand-up Extravehicular Activity (EVA). There is no spacewalking astronaut in the photo so that description must refer to photographer himself.
  2. The viewpoint from where the photo was taken was close to the base of the Agena antenna, with the top of the antenna seen in perspective, rather than the standard view from the window looking down the nose of the spacecraft with the antenna in the plane of the photograph.
Stand-up EVA viewStandard view through window
33.jpg12.jpg
 
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FatPhil

Senior Member.
Are there no other photos of that blue camera? The perspective on that camera, with the antenna behind, should let us triangulate the position of the photographer to within centimetres if we know how that blue one's mounted to the hull.
 

johne1618

Active Member
Are there no other photos of that blue camera? The perspective on that camera, with the antenna behind, should let us triangulate the position of the photographer to within centimetres if we know how that blue one's mounted to the hull.

It looks like the blue Maurer is a hand-held camera on a strap around the astronaut's neck rather than mounted on the hull.

strap+camera.jpgmaurer2.jpg
 
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FatPhil

Senior Member.
It looks like the blue Maurer is a hand-held camera on a strap around the astronaut's neck rather than mounted on the hull.

strap+camera.jpgmaurer2.jpg
I notice that this is the very first of the photos listed as SU-EVA. Could it be it was simply taken as he was fiddling with whatever harnesses he had on as he was standing up? Nothing interesting's in shot - random stuff's in shot - it's not exactly a deliberately-composed image. In which case, there's nothing to prevent his hatch window still being forward of the lens. Because it really really looks like a reflection - and you're going to have to come up with some extremely good reason why it's not in focus if it's "out there" rather than "back in here". Notice how *everything* "out there" is in focus in every other shot.
 

johne1618

Active Member
I notice that this is the very first of the photos listed as SU-EVA. Could it be it was simply taken as he was fiddling with whatever harnesses he had on as he was standing up? Nothing interesting's in shot - random stuff's in shot - it's not exactly a deliberately-composed image. In which case, there's nothing to prevent his hatch window still being forward of the lens. Because it really really looks like a reflection - and you're going to have to come up with some extremely good reason why it's not in focus if it's "out there" rather than "back in here". Notice how *everything* "out there" is in focus in every other shot.

Maybe it's slightly blurred because it was moving fast?

I'm no photographer but according to the Sunny 16 rule for dark conditions if the aperture is f/4.5 and the film is ASA 64 then the shutter speed is quite slow at 1/64 second.
 
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FatPhil

Senior Member.
Maybe it's slightly blurred because it was moving fast?

I'm no photographer but according to the Sunny 16 rule for dark conditions if the aperture is f/4.5 and the film is ASA 64 then the shutter speed is quite slow at 1/64 second.
If it's moving, which direction is it moving in - which direction is it most blurred in? Comparatively, how blurred is it in the orthogonal direction?
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
Maybe it's slightly blurred because it was moving fast?

I'm no photographer but according to the Sunny 16 rule for dark conditions if the aperture is f/4.5 and the film is ASA 64 then the shutter speed is quite slow at 1/64 second.

"Dark conditions"?!?!? The sun was shining, and all the clouds are down there in bit of the atmosphere clinging to earth's surface.

And your maths is wrong - the 1/64s is for f/16. He was possibly at f/4.5, let's call it f/5.6 for ease of maths - double-double-double - so the exposure would be 1/500s. So 1/800s if fully open.
 

Ravi

Senior Member.
I cannot edit my post in #13 anymore but for the record, I made a mistake, indeed not taken from inside.. So forget all what I said. :)

I am now pretty certain @purpleivan was correct, it might be the corner of the door/hatch.
 
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Ann K

Senior Member.
Maybe it's slightly blurred because it was moving fast?

I'm no photographer but according to the Sunny 16 rule for dark conditions if the aperture is f/4.5 and the film is ASA 64 then the shutter speed is quite slow at 1/64 second.
It's sort of blurred, but from the clearer portions, especially the light on the bottom, you can clearly see the triple images that you'd expect from something reflected in several layers of window. The images even differ in color (which they would do if the window was tinted) and size (which they would as each window is at a different distance), so i think that's strong evidence for a reflection.

3ACE0833-A080-4F61-B4FF-6F0C0C8D7FD0.jpeg
If so, that leaves three possibilities: (1) he's inside, (2) he's outside but the hatch is still open so the door window reflects an interior light display, or (3) he's outside but there is also a lighted display panel outside with him which reflects on the capsule. I know of nothing that would make (3) possible.
 

purpleivan

Active Member
I was doubtful that the mystery object was the edge of the hatch window, partly because I was assuming that the hatch would be fully open, so probably would not be seen at that angle relative to the L-band antenna, and likely not to be in shot along with that. However I'm now wondering that, as FatPhil noted, that this is the first photo described as being "SU-EVA", if the shot was taken with the hatch partially open, while preparing for the activities to take place during the stand up EVA.

That would account for the apparent angle of the "hatch window" to the L-band antenna and the two being in shot together. Clearly the photo was taken at an angle that points further away from the longitudinal axis of the vehicle, than the next image in the sequence (S66-54555) and many others that look long he length of the vehicle, which shows the full length of the L-band antenna and the exterior of the "nose" (rendezvous and recovery section) of Gemini 11 and the Agena target vehicle.

This may well be due to it being taken from a position still inside the capsule, rather than actually in a stand-up pose, with the camera outside the vehicle. However, as it was taken with the hatch open, it's qualifies as being during the stand-up EVA.

I've taken a look at some of the other photos from that mission and there are some good close up ones of the edge of the hatch window, taken from inside the vehicle, that shows the layers of light and dark regions, similar to that seen on the mystery object.

Looks like S66-54588 is probably the best (edge seen bottom left).
https://tothemoon.ser.asu.edu/data_g/G11/Hasselblad-SuperWideAngle/small/S66-54588_G11-S_s.png
1667914858086.png

If the object is the corner of the hatch window, I'm still a bit puzzled why nothing of the rest of the interior of the hatch isn't visible, although that could be a combination of very little light being emitted from inside the capsule, the settings of the camera and the materials the rest of the hatch was made of (possibly a lot less reflective than the window edge).

So I'm no leaning back towards my original view that this is interior the corner of the hatch window.
 

johne1618

Active Member
I concede that the term "hatch open" in the image description could be referring to the edge of the hatch (the object) and the term "hatch door" refers to the blue hatch partly obscured by the blue Maurer camera.

desc.jpg

gem1.jpg
 

SpOoKy777

Member
It looks like the blue Maurer is a hand-held camera on a strap around the astronaut's neck rather than mounted on the hull.

strap+camera.jpgmaurer2.jpg

This might not add much to solving the mystery object but I don't think this particular camera was hand-held, but attached to the capsule in some way...

The blue thing in front of the camera body might be part of that mounting system or some sort of lens attachment (angle mirror?) and the "strap" is a cable/remote trigger...the camera itself doesn't seem to have a built-in shutter button...but a huge advance lever with that extended lip...which would both make sense if you have to operate it with bulky pressurized gloves on...

Detail pictures of the camera body (note also the 1/4" mounting plate on the underside of the body):
https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/camera-body-maurer-70mm-gemini/nasm_A19790306000
 
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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
I have an advantage. I'm old, and remember stories I heard at the time. One story was about how cluttered the capsule became during these long missions with stuff like empty food bags..

Could this be an empty plastic "sandwich bag"?NASM-A19850616000_DSH01.jpgNASM-A19850616000cp01.jpg
blowup.jpg
nasa-gemini-era-space-food-toast_1_38f33500317323af32ab5e81a115dea2.jpg
 
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