Discuss as:

See the ultimate space shot in 3-D

Roberto Beltramini / Space 3D

A 3-D view created from NASA imagery shows the space shuttle Endeavour docked to the International Space Station during that shuttle's last mission in May.

How can you possibly improve upon the ultimate pictures of the space shuttle and the International Space Station together in orbit? By turning them into 3-D photos, of course.

That's what Italian amateur astronomer Roberto Beltramini did with the imagery captured in May by his countryman, astronaut Paolo Nespoli. The "ultimate" opportunity presented itself when Nespoli and two other spacefliers were leaving the space station to come back home during the shuttle Endeavour's final orbital tour. Nespoli shot high-definition stills and video from the departing Soyuz spacecraft, and the fruits of his labors were made public last month.


Beltramini took pairs of slightly offset images and tweaked them to produce these stereo views, displayed on his Space 3D gallery and republished with permission.

Roberto Beltramini / Space 3D

In this view, you can make out Endeavour's robotic arm curling around the shuttle. Red-blue glasses are required for the 3-D effect.

Roberto Beltramini / Space 3D

A different perspective shows Endeavour's rear end, head-on.

These are perspectives we'll never see again — not even during Atlantis' program-ending visit to the space station this month. It was a scheduling fluke that a Soyuz craft happened to be leaving the station while Endeavour was docked, and the circumstance is virtually certain not to be repeated.

We just might see Atlantis and the station linked together from a different perspective, however. Photographers such as France's Thierry Legault are getting better and better at snapping amazing pictures of the station-shuttle complex from Earth, and during Atlantis' mission, you'll want to check Legault's website as well as Patrick Vantuyne's 3-D photo gallery.

Update for 9:40 p.m. ET: You'll need red-blue glasses to get the full 3-D effect from the pictures offered by Beltramini and Vantuyne. I'm in the process of sending out 3-D specs to at least a dozen (and probably more) members of the Cosmic Log Facebook community as part of our occasional "3-D Giveaway" program. To join the community, all you have to do is click the "Like" button on the Facebook page. The glasses are being provided courtesy of Microsoft Research. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.) If you're one of today's winners, congrats: I'll start sending out the glasses after Atlantis lifts off.

More 3-D views from space:


Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page or following @b0yle on Twitter. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.