View from space: Russian missile contrail

Two astronauts’ photos of the contrail from a Russian missile launch

While most of NASA went dark during the government shutdown, life went on at the International Space Station. Throughout October, astronauts Karen Nyberg, Mike Hopkins, and Luca Parmitano sent a steady stream of tweets back to Earth. The most eye-popping of the bunch came from Hopkins, who tweeted this on October 10, 2013:

Saw something launch into space today. Not sure what it was, but the cloud it left behind was pretty amazing.

Image credit: Mike Hopkins/NASA

Image credit: Mike Hopkins/NASA

It turns out it was a Russian missile launch, according to bloggers at the Russian Nuclear Forces Project. The group noted:

The Strategic Rocket Forces carried out a successful test launch of a Topol/SS-25 missile on October 10, 2013. The missile was launched at 17:39 MSK (13:39 UTC) from Kapustin Yar to the Sary Shagan test site in Kazakhstan. According to a representative of the Rocket Forces, the test was used to confirm characteristics of the Topol missile, to test the systems of the Sary Shagan test site, and ‘to test new combat payload for intercontinental ballistic missiles.’

Hopkins’ colleague, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, also captured the remarkable shot below, which shows the missile’s contrail being yanked back and forth by winds at different levels of the atmosphere.

Image credit: Luca Parmitano/European Space Agency

Image credit: Luca Parmitano/European Space Agency

Via NASA Earth Observatory

EarthSky

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