Mystery shuttle ‘zap’ photo ‘wows’ NASA

Feb. 6, 2003: WND documented skyrocketing interest in an unreleased photograph purporting to show the space shuttle Columbia being “zapped” by some kind of purple electrical phenomenon.

WND subsequently learned the digital camera model that took the picture had been known to have its own color glitches.


That was veteran astronaut Tammy Jernigan’s stunned reaction when she viewed the photo at the home of the San Francisco man who snapped the shuttle’s re-entry into the atmosphere just before it disintegrated.

“It certainly appears very anomalous,” Jernigan said. “We sure will be very interested in taking a very hard look at this.”

“In the critical shot,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle, “a glowing purple rope of light corkscrews down toward the plasma trail, appears to pass behind it, then cuts sharply toward it from below. As it merges with the plasma trail, the streak itself brightens for a distance, then fades.”

“[The photos] clearly record an electrical discharge like a lightning bolt flashing past, and I was snapping the pictures almost exactly … when the Columbia may have begun breaking up during re-entry,” the photographer originally said.

To WND’s knowledge, the mysterious photo has never been released to the public.

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