Environment

The Eye of the Swirling Marshmallow Storm

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Photo Credits: Image: NASA

Yep, it's hurricane season. And while residents up and down the East Coast have been battening down the hatches in preparation for Hurricane Earl, NASA has used the opportunity to examine the storms from every angle.

Earlier this week 80beats reported that NASA's Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) mission is sending a plane back and forth through the eye of Earl; researchers are gathering data to study how and why some storms turn into massive monsters while others dwindle away to nothing. This picture of Earl's eye was taken on Thursday morning while the plane was cruising at an altitude of 60,000 feet (11.4 miles up).

Photo Credits: Image: NASA

While East Coasters' attention has been fixed on the major storms forming over the Atlantic, the Pacific has its own crop of potential hurricanes. Lucikly NASA has been paying attention. This photo of Tropical Storm Frank in the Eastern Pacific Ocean was taken by a GRIP aircraft on Saturday, August 28 from an altitude of 60,000 feet.

Photo Credits: Image: NASA

A little higher, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station are getting a great view. The station's current altitude is about 220 miles high.

Photo Credits: Image: NASA

These photos from the ISS were taken by an Expedition 24 crew member on Monday. They show Hurricane Earl (at this time a category 4 storm) as it passed just north of the Virgin Islands.

Photo Credits: Image: NASA

As Bad Astronomy noted earlier, NASA’s Terra satellite has captured images of the brewing storms. Terra's job is to gaze back at our planet from about 430 miles up, and to conduct studies of earth science and global warming.

In this photo, taken on Sunday August 29, the larger storm is Hurricane Danielle, which has since fizzled out. The smaller storm is Earl, which grew in strength throughout the week.

Photo Credits: Image: NOAA / NASA

By yesterday Earl looked truly daunting, reaching Category 4 status with winds of 145 miles per hour. But this morning (Friday) meteorologists declared that Earl had weakened to a Category 1 hurricane.

This image was taken this morning by a weather satellite called GOES-13. It shows Earl (top) creeping up the coast, with the disorganized Tropical Storm Fiona following behind. Geostationary satellites like GOES-13 orbit at about 22,300 miles above the Earth.

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