16 Apr 2014

A volcano, cyclone, dust storm and Grand Canyon from space

As we go about our daily lives on the surface, satellites orbit the earth, constantly snapping images from space of our planet below.

The images captured are invaluable in monitoring how our planet is changing – both from a natural and man-made perspective.

Nasa catalogues these detailed images and makes them available to view on its Earth Observations website.

Some of the recent pictures are particularly striking, so I thought I’d share them with you and explain what they show. 

Tropical Cyclone Ita

The image below is of Tropical Cyclone Ita as it slammed into the coast of northern Queensland on 11 April.


The central eye of the storm, where the strongest winds occur, can be clearly seen. Even though it is a still image, you get a sense of the storm’s rotation from the way that the cloud spirals outwards.

Ita had sustained winds of around 144mph, equivalent to a category four hurricane, prior to making landfall at Cape Flattery, north of Cooktown.

At the time of landfall, sustained winds of around 90mph were recorded by an official weather station.

Karymsky volcano

Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula is often referred to as remote, cold and rugged. The area has 113 volcanoes, 40 of which are considered active.

The image below was taken on 14 April, showing one of the more southerly volcanoes, Karymsky. This particular volcano has erupted regularly since 1996 and has peaks at 1536 metres.


Plate tectonics is the main cause of volcanic activity in this part of the world, due to the Pacific plate slowly colliding with and sliding beneath the Okhotsk plate.

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of the best-known tourist attractions in the world, visited by many on helicopter tours.

Steep walls of the Colorado River canyon give an intricate landscape that carves through the region.

The river lies at an altitude of 715 metres, but the top of the canyon sits much higher at 2100 metres – offering an excellent viewing point for visitors.

The image below was captured from the International Space Station on the 25 March.


Dust storm in Texas

Low pressure gave strong winds, gusting to 55mph, across the Southern Plains on 18 March, picking up exposed soil from the parched landscape.

Once the soil was lifted from the ground, the strong winds whipped it up into a frenzy, creating a dust storm that covered parts of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.

The image below shows the dust storm over Texas, and was the second in a week to cross the area.


If you want to browse more of the Nasa’s images, you can see them here. I also post them on Twitter – @liamdutton

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