Are Volcanic Eruptions Visible from Space?

In March 2017, astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) was aboard the International Space Station (ISS) when he captured an image of lava flowing from Mount Etna. Similar images were also captured a few days earlier by the ESA's satellite Sentinel-2A. Located on the east coast of Sicily, Mount Etna is the tallest volcano in Europe and is known for its short and sudden eruptions. The volcano, which is 10,900 feet (3,329 m) tall, experienced some powerful eruptions in 2017, which resulted in the lava being visible from space for the first time. Images from the ISS and the satellite show the lava as a glowing red mass that is easily differentiated from its surroundings.

More about the International Space Station:

  • The International Space Station is a large spacecraft in orbit 220 miles (354 km) above the Earth.

  • Astronauts live aboard the International Space Station primarily to conduct research. The first crew arrived in the year 2000.

  • The International Space Station's imaging system has provided useful images to help responders deal with the aftermath of natural disasters on Earth.

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