That's one speedy streaker caught flying to space.
A weather satellite captured NASA's Artemis 1 mission in the moments after it lifted off for the moon on Wednesday (Nov. 16). Although the launch blasted off a pad in Florida at 1:47 a.m. EST (0647 GMT) in total darkness, the water plume of the Space Launch System was visible in the view of the GOES East satellite.
"You can see the rocket streaking through the atmosphere in this water vapor imagery," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which operates GOES East, said in a tweet (opens in new tab).
GOES East's mid-level water vapor band is normally used for looking at winds in the lowest layer of the atmosphere, known as the troposphere, along with looking at jet streams, generating hurricane and storm motion predictions and estimating moisture, according to a NOAA backgrounder page (opens in new tab).
.@NOAA's #GOESEast satellite captured the early morning launch of NASA's #Artemis I from @NASAKennedy in Florida! You can see the rocket streaking through the atmosphere in this water vapor imagery. https://t.co/8EN9KfWliM pic.twitter.com/lybvk01si4November 16, 2022
Artemis 1 has also been generating imagery from space on its own, with the first lower-resolution images beaming back already in the hours after launch. Parts of the Orion spacecraft are visible in these first-look views, along with the curve of the Earth in the background.
Images from ground, Earth's atmosphere and space will all be used in assessing the engineering success of Artemis 1. The flight is an uncrewed debut effort within NASA's larger Artemis program, which aims to put people on the moon in mid-decade at the earliest.
Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller (opens in new tab)?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).