Astronauts on the International Space Station have beamed home photos of an eerie space cloud outside their orbital home, a strange sight apparently created by a recent missile launch.
The astronaut photos were captured on Oct. 10 by NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano who took to Twitter under their pen names (@AstroIllini and @astro_luca, respectively) to share the unnatural looking space cloud formation with Earth.
“Saw something launch into space today,” Hopkins wrote. “Not sure what it was but the cloud it left behind was pretty amazing.” At first, Hopkins wasn’t sure what created the odd looking cloud outside the window of the orbiting laboratory, but Parmitano cleared up the confusion with a Twitter post of his own. [Amazing Space Photos by Astronaut Luca Parmitano]
“A missile launch seen from space: an unexpected surprise!” Parmitano wrote in a post on Oct. 11. One of the Italian astronaut’s photos shows a curving contrail left in the missile’s wake and another features a wispy cloud formed in space after the missile disintegrated.
Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces launched the missile, according to a blog post on RussianForces.org. The Topol/SS-25 missile launched from Kapustin Yar to the Sary Shagan test site in Kazakhstan.
“According to a representative of the Rocket Forces, the test was used to confirm characteristics of the Topol missile, to test the systems of the Sary Shagan test site, and ‘to test new combat payload for intercontinental ballistic missiles,'” RussianForces.org wrote on Oct. 10.
Russia also conducted a similar test from Kapustin Yar to Sary Shagan in June 2012, RussiaForces.org said.
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