Wikipedia:Picture of the day/September 21, 2006

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Picture of the day

Space Shuttle Atlantis launch plume

The launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-98, February 7 2001, at sunset. The sun is behind the camera, and the shape of the plume is cast across the vault of the sky, intersecting the rising full moon. The top portion of the plume is bright because it is illuminated directly by the sun; the lower portions are in the Earth's shadow. After launch, the shuttle must engage in a pitch and roll program so that the vehicle is below the external tank and SRBs, as evidenced in the plume trail. The vehicle climbs in a progressively flattening arc, because achieving low orbit requires much more horizontal than vertical acceleration.

Photo credit: NASA/Fir0002
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