Aircraft contrails, France

Aircraft contrails, France

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Caption: Aircraft contrails, Central Rhone Valley, France, seen from the International Space Station (ISS). Contrails are artificial clouds formed from frozen water droplets from the exhaust of the engines of an aircraft. They are formed when the aircraft is flying at an altitude of over 5000 metres and when the upper atmosphere is nearly saturated with moisture. In dry air, the contrails will evaporate quickly. Snow-capped (white) mountains form part of the Alps. Geneva and Lake Geneva, Switzerland, are at top centre. The French city of Lyon (brown, centre left) is 110 kilometres from Lake Geneva. The ISS orbits the Earth at an altitude of around 380 kilometres. Photographed on 15 May 2002.

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