The ISS Astronauts Snapped The Raikoke Volcano Eruption From Space

Pablo Tucker
June 28, 2019

The powerful eruption of the Raikoke volcano was captured by astronauts on the International Space Station on Saturday.

As reported by "FACTS", in early June, Indonesia's North Sumatra erupted volcano - woke up mount Sinabung (Sinabung). The vast plume of smoke and ash seen in the image bellowed out of the 700-meter wide crater and was picked up by several satellites and astronauts on the ISS. The volcanic plume rose in a narrow column until it spreads out greatly when the density of the plume and the density of the surrounding air equalize, causing the plume to stop rising. The most recent previous eruption at Raikoke was in 1924, and the one before that was in 1778. Data from the CALIPSO satellite launched in 2006 by NASA and the French government space agency CNES suggests that parts of the plume may have reached 10 miles up.


The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite acquired another image (below) on the morning of June 22.

The image also shows a ring of clouds at the base, which seems to have formed from water vapor, NASA officials said in a statement.


The Raikoke volcano isn't known for its eruptions, because they rarely happen.

Strong winds from the adjacent Sea of Okhotsk carried the silicate-heavy ash cloud east, towards the north Pacific Ocean.


"What a spectacular image", said Simon Carn, a volcanologist at Michigan Tech. 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. It sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the Pacific tectonic plate meets other tectonic plates and where most of the worlds' earthquakes and volcanic eruptions take place. A third image was also captured using the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP, which also showed the appearance of plume. Ash contains fragments of rock and volcanic glass that could pose hazards.

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