This is what an erupting volcano looks like from space

Katie Ramirez
June 30, 2019

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station caught the spectacular eruption of the Raikoke volcano off of Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula over the weekend.

New photos of Earth from space reveal a brown ash plume billowing from the Raikoke volcano in the North Pacific Ocean following an eruption on Saturday (June 22).

This NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens shows the eruption of the Raikoke volcano.

Since its eruption, the plume was pulled into circulation of a storm in the North Pacific and now is drifting over the Bering Sea, reports the European Space Agency.

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Because the ISS photo was taken at an angle and not directly above the volcano, the impressive height, girth and structure of the ash plume is visible, as is the shadow cast by the plume on the cloud cover far below.

The image shows the classic shape of a volcanic plume rising, and then ash spreading at the top.

The fantastic image, which shows a huge plume of smoke rising up and surrounded by white clouds, was released by NASA Earth Observatory. Reports for aviators signaled that the ash had reached an altitude of 8 miles while satellites indicated that some parts of the plume might have reached 10 miles in altitude. The thick plume was carried to the east by a storm in the North Pacific, and astronauts on the ISS, and orbiting satellites, watched it all happen. The ring of clouds at the base of the column appears to be water vapor, according to a NASA Earth Observatory blog post. This cloud could likely be water vapor condensing out of the air; alternatively, it could be steam from the hot bright orange magma entering the water. Satellites have also been monitoring the ash that spewed from the volcano, since rock and volcanic glass fragments can pose a "serious hazard to aircraft", according to the press release. Toxic gases may have already reached the stratosphere, the second layer of Earth's atmosphere. "The persistence of large SO2 amounts over the last two days also indicates stratospheric injection".

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