Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2016 July 21
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Falcon 9: Launch and Landing
Image Credit & Copyright: Michael Seeley

Explanation: Shortly after midnight on July 18 a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, planet Earth. About 9 minutes later, the rocket's first stage returned to the spaceport. This single time exposure captures the rocket's launch arc and landing streak from Jetty Park only a few miles away. Along a climbing, curving trajectory the launch is traced by the initial burn of the first stage, ending near the top of the bright arc before stage separation. Due to perspective the next bright burn appears above the top of the launch arc in the photo, the returning first stage descending closer to the Cape. The final landing burn creates a long streak as the first stage slows and comes to rest at Landing Zone 1. Yesterday the Dragon cargo spacecraft delivered to orbit by the rocket's second stage was attached to the International Space Station.

Tomorrow's picture: pixels in spacetime

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