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.

2006 July 8
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Discovery in Motion
Image Credit: Dimitri Gerondidakis, NASA

Explanation: On July 4th, the space shuttle orbiter Discovery rocketed into space on mission STS-121. Now docked with the International Space Station, Discovery orbits planet Earth at about 27 thousand kilometers per hour. But in this dramatic sunset view taken in May, Discovery is approaching the service structures at Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39B at the blinding speed of (less than) 2 kilometers per hour. Of course, the orbiter, booster rockets, and external fuel tank ride on one of NASA's workhorse crawler transporters. Built for the Apollo program to carry the giant Saturn V rocket, the crawler transporters have seen four decades of service.

Tomorrow's picture: Eskimo Nebula

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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& Michigan Tech. U.