OK, by this point we all know Gravity was beautiful and terrifying and, mercifully, complete fiction. But scary clouds of space debris are real. There's one floating up there right now—a possible missile explosion—and it's a debris cloud of mystery.
The mystery started about six hours ago, when Luca Parmitano, an astronaut currently on the ISS, tweeted a picture of a rocket launch as seen from space. Awesome!
A missile launch seen from space: an unexpected surprise! pic.twitter.com/mbWI209ELv— Luca Parmitano (@astro_luca) October 11, 2013
But it didn't end there. He followed it up with a picture of the debris cloud formed after "disintegration." But besides that, there are no other details.
An immense cloud forms outside the atmosphere after the disintegration pic.twitter.com/PshgE1W7CJ— Luca Parmitano (@astro_luca) October 11, 2013
Chances are this is no big deal, and hopefully it isn't, but we've reached out to the European Space Agency for a little more info on what's actually going on. Unfortunately Parmitano either can't elaborate or isn't elaborating.
A Gravity disaster is unlikely—maybe closer to impossible—but space debris is still a danger up there, and exploding/disintegrating missiles are sure to cause some. Who knows what the deal is, but we'll let you know if we find out more. But in the meantime, it's hard to argue that a space-splosion of this magnitude looks damn cool.