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Sci-Tech

ISS astronauts snap staggering volcano eruption

A rare eruption of the Raikoke volcano in Russia gives NASA an eyeful of ash.

Raikoke erupts, as seen from the ISS.

NASA

It's a good thing Raikoke, part of the Kuril Islands that trace a line between Russia and Japan, is uninhabited. The volcano on Raikoke last blew out in 1924, but it's at it again, and the view from space is spectacular.

The volcano rumbled back to life on June 22, sending a plume of ash and gas skyward. Astronauts on the International Space Station captured a wild view of the action. 

The top part of the plume flattens out into what's known as the umbrella region. "That is the area where the density of the plume and the surrounding air equalize and the plume stops rising," said NASA's Earth Observatory. "The ring of clouds at the base of the column appears to be water vapor."

The volcano's activity was enthusiastic, but brief. Satellites kept watch as the ash and gas interacted with local weather. 

ESA's Sentinel satellite watched the eruption from orbit.

Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA

The European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel satellite also snapped an image of the unexpected eruption. You can see the plume stretching over the ocean. 

"Weather officials warned aircrafts flying over the area to be careful of any volcanic ash following the eruption," ESA said.

The Raikoke ISS image stands with some of the most thrilling pictures of volcanoes from space, which includes a dramatic look at another Russian volcano letting loose in 2017. Astronauts and satellites can fortunately marvel at the spectacle from a safe distance.