RE: STS-98 Launch Obs

From: Matson, Robert (ROBERT.D.MATSON@saic.com)
Date: Wed Feb 07 2001 - 20:03:24 PST

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    Hi Robert,
    
    > Also, of great interest to me, several minutes after shuttle disappeared
    > there was a bright white cloud in the direction of where it had ascended.
    > this cloud was probably very high altitude as it remained very bright for
    a
    > good 20 minutes after the launch, and the sun was well below the horizon.
    > Went to church after launch and everyone was standing around looking at
    this
    > cloud wondering what it was. The cloud combined with the fiery red smoke
    > trail made quite an impressive sight.
    
    This was the Shuttle exhaust vapor trail, illuminated by
    sunlight.
    
    > I know there is a rare weather phenomenon of a high altitude cloud now and
    > then, so does anyone know whether this was something from the shuttle
    > or a weather thing.
    
    Almost certainly the Shuttle.  The (natural) cloud phenomena
    that you refer to are noctilucent clouds.
    
    Cheers,
    Rob
    
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