image (468 Kb)
On Oct. 30,
2002, the International Space Station's Expedition Five crew was
able to observe Mount Etna's spectacular eruption and photograph
the details of the eruption plume and smoke from fires triggered
by the lava as it flowed down the 3,350-meter (11,000-foot) mountain.
This was one of Etna's most vigorous eruptions in years. The eruption
was triggered by a series of earthquakes on Oct. 27. Although schools
were closed and air traffic was diverted because of the ash, no
towns or villages were threatened by the lava flow. Both of these
images are looking obliquely to the southeast over the island of
The wide view
-- above -- shows the ash plume curving out toward the horizon,
caught first by low-level winds blowing to the southeast, and to
the south toward Africa at higher altitudes. Ashfall was reported
in Libya, more than 350 miles away.
plumes downslope and north of the summit -- pictured in the detailed
view below -- are produced by forest fires set by lava flowing into
the pine forests on the slope of the mountain. The detailed image
provides a more three-dimensional profile of the eruption plume.
image (184 Kb)
were provided by the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory
at Johnson Space Center. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA-JSC Gateway
to Astronaut Photography of Earth.