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Lightning over Equatorial Africa
Lightning over Equatorial Africa Click here to view full image (651 kb)

These two images were taken 9 seconds apart as the STS-97 Space Shuttle flew over equatorial Africa east of Lake Volta on December 11, 2000. The top of the large thunderstorm, roughly 20 km across, is illuminated by a full moon and frequent bursts of lightning. Because the Space Shuttle travels at about 7 km/sec, the astronaut perspectives on this storm system becomes more oblique over the 9-second interval between photographs. The images were taken with a Nikon 35 mm camera equipped with a 400 mm lens and high-speed (800 ISO) color negative film.

Images are STS097-351-9 and STS097-351-12, provided and archived by the Earth Science and Image Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. Additional images taken by astronauts can be viewed at NASA-JSCís Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth at

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