Space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Monday morning, April 5th, on a 13-day mission to the International Space Station. Long after the shuttle disappeared from the brightening dawn sky, however, onlookers continued to stare ... at this:
Image
© Craig Crawford
The exhaust trail left by the Space Shuttle Discovery as it blasted off from Cape Canaveral in early April 2009

"I photographed the cloud twisting and turning over the Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex," says photographer Craig Crawford. "It was psychedelic."

Although it appears to be a strange brew of colorful chemicals, the cloud is in fact no more than a wispy plume of water droplets and ice crystals. The shuttle's main engines are fueled by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen--a combination that produces a lot of H2O. Rays from the morning sun painted the twisting plume with all the colors of the dawn. Psychedelic, indeed. Stay tuned for a different type of rocket cloud tomorrow.