Phenomena

Discovery Wingtip Vortices

Wingtip vortices mark the path of Discovery as she makes her final landing. Though not always visible, these vortices are generated by any lifting body planform and can be a major source of induced drag on the craft. Here the vortices are visible because the low pressure in the core of the vortex caused a local temperature drop below the dew point, thus causing condensation. Such vortices persist for significant lengths of time in the wake of aircraft; they are a major source of wake turbulence, which limits how frequently aircraft can take-off or land on a single runway. (Photo by Jen Scheer)

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