APU Venting on STS-123

From: amstuart (amstuart@sprintmail.com)
Date: Thu Mar 27 2008 - 13:30:56 UTC

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     At first I thought a strobe light was flashing near the tail fin of the
     shuttle as it rolled to its night landing. Then, when the orange glow 
     more intense,  I thought the shuttle was on fire (!) Finally, a commentator
     on NASA TV stated that APU venting was causing this dramatic image.
    What is "APU venting", and why are flames apparently released and not mere
     heat if the term "venting" is used? Is "venting" something that takes place
     on-orbit (ever) and is visible from Earth?
     Thank you.
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