Hurricane Earl - The Astronaut View 

The relatively placid view from the International Space Station belied the potent forces at work in Hurricane Earl as it hovered over the tropical Atlantic Ocean on August 30. With maximum sustained winds of 135 miles (215 kilometers) per hour, the storm was classified as a category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale as it passed north of the Virgin Islands.


In this photograph captured with a digital SLR camera by NASA astronaut Douglas Wheelock, Earl had a distinct eye that spanned about 17 miles (28 kilometers). Most of the storm had a seemingly uniform top, though the bottom edge of the image gives some sense of the towering thunderheads forming over the ocean. The solar panels of the ISS remind us that the sun is still shining, at least on ISS Expedition 24.


Around the time of the photograph on August 30, the National Hurricane Center reported that Earl was centered near latitude 19.3 degrees North, longitude 64.7 degrees West, about 110 miles (180 kilometers) northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The storm was moving west-northwest at 15 miles (24 km) per hour.
On the same day, scientists participating in NASA's Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes field campaign snapped their own photos of the storm, which you can see here.


"Hurricane Earl is gathering some serious strength," Wheelock wrote from his perch on ISS. "It is incredible what a difference a day makes when you’re dealing with this force of nature. Please keep a watchful eye on this one...not sure if Earl will go quietly into the night like Danielle."


Desde la visión, relativamente plácida, de la Estación Espacial Internacional  (ISS) se descubren las potentes fuerzas del huracán Earl, ya que se cernía sobre la zona tropical del Océano Atlántico el 30 de agosto. Con vientos máximos sostenidos de 135 millas (215 kilómetros) por hora, la tormenta fue clasificada como de categoría 4 en la escala de huracanes Saffir-Simpson, al pasar al norte de las islas Vírgenes.


En esta fotografía capturada con una cámara réflex digital, por el astronauta de la NASA Douglas Wheelock, Earl tenía un ojo distinguible que se extendía unas 17 millas (28 kilómetros). La mayor parte de la tormenta parecía en un principio aparentemente uniforme, aunque el borde inferior de la imagen da una idea de las nubes que se forman imponentes sobre el océano. Los paneles solares de la ISS nos recuerdan que el sol sigue brillando, al menos en la 24 Expedición de la ISS.


National Hurricane Center. (2010, August 30). Hurricane Earl Advisory Archive. Accessed September 1, 2010.
NASA. (2010, August 31). Douglas Wheelock's photos on "AstroWheels" TwitPics. Accessed September 1, 2010.
NASA. (2010, August 31). Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes. Accessed September 1, 2010.
NASA image courtesy NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Michael Carlowicz.