Wildfire Smoke is Visible Even at Night from Space

Article written: 9 Jul , 2012
Updated: 23 Dec , 2015

The Whitewater-Baldy fire is the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history and has charred more than 465 square miles of the Gila National Forest since it started back on May 16, 2012 after several lightning strikes in the area. This wildfire produced so much smoke that it was visible even at night to the astronaut photographers on the International Space Station. This image was taken on June 2, 2012 by the crew of Expedition 31 on the ISS, with a Nikon D3S digital camera. A Russian spacecraft docked to the station is visible on the left side of the image.

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory website.

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2 Responses

  1. zkank says

    It’s currently 62 % of a full moon (waning gibbous) lighting that smoke cloud.
    The quantity of smoke is irrelevant, isn’t it? (quote: “The wildfire produced so much smoke that it was visible even at night…)

    I’d wager it will be invisible come the new moon.

  2. nataylor says

    I’m not entirely sure that is smoke. The plume appears to be directly over White Sands. The southern edge of plume (the edge to the left in the picture) matches up pretty well with the southern border of White Sands. I think we may be seeing dust from White Sands picked up by a wind from the south.

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