Astronaut Captures Incredible Images of Australian Bush Fires

by Nancy Atkinson on January 8, 2013

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Lines of scorched earth and huge smoke plumes from wild fires in Australia were visible from the International Space Station on January 8, 2013. Credit: NASA/Chris Hadfield

Lines of scorched earth and huge smoke plumes from wild fires in Australia were visible from the International Space Station on January 8, 2013. Credit: NASA/Chris Hadfield

Intense wild fires, or bush fires as they are called in Australia, are burning out of control across southeast Australia with authorities describing the condition as “catastrophic.” The huge fires were easily visible from the International Space Station on Tuesday and onboard, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has been watching from above.

See more of his images below:

A long line of bush fires range in Australia, and are visible from space. Credit: NASA/Chris Hadfield

Officials say more than 130 fires, many uncontained, are burning in the heavily populated New South Wales state, where dry conditions are fueling the fires as temperatures reached 45 degrees and wind gusts reached more than 100 kilometers per hour.

Huge plumes of smoke from bush fires in Australia were visible from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Chris Hadfield.

Huge plumes of smoke from bush fires in Australia were visible from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Chris Hadfield.

In Tasmania, an island south of Australia, rescue officials are still trying to locate around 100 residents who have been missing after a fire tore through a village, destroying dozens of homes. You can see images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite that were taken on January 7, 2013 at the Earth Observatory website.

Follow Chris Hadfield on Twitter to see more images.

Additional information on the bush fires from Voice of America

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Dave January 9, 2013 at 10:00 AM

oh the Tasmanians are going to love that!.. it’s actually a state… that happens to be an island.

Chetan Chauhan January 9, 2013 at 10:14 AM

I thought Australia was also a moderately sized island ?

Dave January 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Well.. kinda one massive island with a lot of small ones of the side, and a reasonably big one underneath… I guess we don’t really think of it like an island though. More like a continent.

Greg Maynard January 9, 2013 at 9:21 PM

Growing up I was taught it was either the world’s largest island or the world’s smallest continent. Nowadays Australia is geologically considered the largest part of the continent of Australasia which includes New Guinea to the North. As for moderate, keep in mind that the mainland is approximately the size of the continental USA, although since the largest part of the interior is arid most of the population lives in the capital cities of each state, one of which is Tasmania.

kenny williams January 9, 2013 at 11:08 AM
Dampe January 9, 2013 at 11:49 AM

So Australia has never had bushfires before? Let me guess, the 1851 Bushfires where also due to man made climage change?

lcrowell January 9, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Australia has had huge brushfires over the last five years. The frequency of them is the biggest red flag.
LC

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