Volcanoes from Space: 50 Breathtaking Astronaut and Satellite Photos

intro
These spectacular volcanoes can be seen from space. NASA/Getty/Reuters

The ongoing eruptions at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano have reawoken the country to the terrifying power of an active volcano.

The eruptions, which began on May 3, have killed nearly 60 people and destroyed around 600 homes, according to University of Hawaii geologist Scott Rowland, as quoted by Reuters. Photos from the scene show burning-hot magma, raining lava and a web of ground fissures.

Ash, lava and toxic gases are still spewing across Hawaii’s largest island.

The volcano’s eruption is so huge that it can be seen from space. Images from NASA’s International Space Station show a plume of smoke rising from the volcano’s crater, dispersing smoke for miles.

It is not the first volcano to be captured from space mid-eruption. Alaska’s Cleveland Volcano was photographed billowing smoke 20,000 feet above sea level in 2006.

Mount Etna, an active volcano on the Italian island of Sicily, has been spotted from space a number of times as it belches lava and smoke. It is still highly unpredictable: An eruption in March 2017 injured 10 people, including a BBC News television crew, after magma exploded upon contact with snow.

A volcano occurs when a rupture in the crust of the Earth allows hot lava, volcanic ash and gases to escape from below the surface. The lifespan of a volcano can vary from months to several million years. Most scientists consider a volcano active if it has erupted in the last 10,000 years.

Volcanoes are a very real threat to many people’s lives—around 500 million people live near active ones. Kilauea is one of the most active in the world, alongside Mount Etna and Mount Yasur.

From Iceland to Chile, we have collected fifty photos of these volcanoes, captured by astronauts. They offer a new perspective on the eruptions, but still reinforce their fearsome natural power.

 

1 RTS1RFO2

1 RTS1RFO2
View of the Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano from the International Space Station in this undated image obtained from social media and tweeted on May 13, 2018. Andrew J. Feustel/NASA/via Reuters

2 168898main_image_feature_756_ys_full

2 168898main_image_feature_756_ys_full
On May 23, 2006, the Cleveland Volcano produced a plume of ash. This picture shows the ash plume moving west-southwest from the volcano's summit. A bank of fog (upper right) is a common feature around the Aleutian Islands. NASA

2 GettyImages-1607114_master

2 GettyImages-1607114_master
Smoke and ash combine to create a plume extending from the erupting volcano July 22, 2001 on Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy. The eruption has opened five vents in the mountain and released a cloud of ash stretching southeastward over the Mediterranean Sea. NASA/Getty Images

3 438220main_ISS022-E-008285_lrg_full

3 438220main_ISS022-E-008285_lrg_full
The summit of South America's Llullaillaco Volcano has an elevation of 22,110 feet above sea level, making it the highest historically active volcano in the world. The last explosive eruption of the volcano, based on historical records, occurred in 1877. NASA

3 GettyImages-1548409_master

3 GettyImages-1548409_master
A brown streak of smoke and ash erupting from Mount Etna is visible in this satellite image from October 29, 2002 in Sicily, Italy. Mount Etna is the largest and most active volcano in Europe. NASA/Terra Satellite/Getty Images

3 pia21878

3 pia21878
Shiveluch, one of the world's most active volcanoes, is seen poking through above a solid cloud deck, with an ash plume streaming to the west. Located on the Kamchatka Peninsula in far eastern Russia, it is one of many active volcanoes on the Peninsula. NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

4 nishinoshima_oli_2014089_lrg

4 nishinoshima_oli_2014089_lrg
In November 2013, a seafloor volcano in the western Pacific Ocean spewed enough material to rise above the water line. The new island, or Niijima, sprouted just 500 meters from Nishino-shima, another volcanic island that had last erupted and expanded in 1973–74. NASA/Earth Observatory/Landsat 8

5 GettyImages-457765082_master

5 GettyImages-457765082_master
Volcanic smoke of Mount Shinmoedake flows on February 3, 2010. NASA via Getty Images

5 mtsthelens_oli_2015110_lrg

5 mtsthelens_oli_2015110_lrg
On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens gave way to a cataclysmic flank collapse, avalanche, and explosion that killed 57 people and displaced many others. The event dramatically reshaped the volcano and surrounding land in southwest Washington. NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey and ASTER GDEM2 data from NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

5 RTXXGBC

5 RTXXGBC
Volcanic ashes and a lava dome from Shinmoedake peak, located between Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures, are seen in southern Japan, in this NASA satellite image taken and released February 3, 2011. Reuters/NASA/Handout

5 wolf_ast_2015162_lrg

5 wolf_ast_2015162_lrg
In late May 2015, the highest volcano in the Galapagos Islands erupted for the first time in 33 years. The explosive eruption at Wolf volcano on Isabela Island sent volcanic gases and ash roughly 50,000 feet into the sky. NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data from NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team