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.

2010 May 8
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Atlantis Lift Off
Image Credit & Copyright: Ben Cooper (Launch Photography)

Explanation: Atlantis has lifted off, but not from launch pad 39A. Instead, this sharp, wide-angle photo taken on April 13, shows the space shuttle orbiter lifted off the floor of Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building. Shortly afterwards, Atlantis was attached to an external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters prior to roll out. Now resting on pad 39A, Atlantis is scheduled for its actual liftoff on May 14. Embarking on the STS-132 mission to the International Space Station , that launch will represent the final scheduled launch for Atlantis. Atlantis was named for a sailing ship operated for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute from 1930 to 1966. The maiden voyage of the Atlantis, Orbiter Vehicle-104, began on October 3, 1985. In 1991, Atlantis deployed the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

Tomorrow's picture: cat's eye

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