One Last Pic: Atlantis’s Glowing Re-Entry, Captured from the ISS

Alright, alright, one more farewell post for Atlantis just because this image is so very amazing. Captured by the crew aboard the International Space Station, the image shows Atlantis’s glowing hot re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and the plasma trail it left behind.

Shortly before Atlantis’s textbook-clean landing in Florida this morning, it was moving some 17,500 miles per hour around the Earth. So naturally, things got a little warm when the shuttle plunged back into the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. What you’re seeing here is the plasma glow leftover from the super-heated air around Atlantis’s heat shield as it made one final, fiery push through the atmosphere to safely return America’s space travelers to solid ground.