Rocket Launch Phenomena

The launch of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) last year provided a rarely seen glimpse of how shock waves affect the atmosphere during launch, but only recently have researchers explained the white column that seemed to follow SDO toward orbit. Simulations indicate that the shock waves from the rocket aligned the ice crystals in the atmosphere into an array of spinning tops. Individual crystals precess as a result of the rocket passing; the column is part of a larger oval that would have been visible had the ice crystals covered a larger range. See Wired for more. #

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