Amazing Radar Image from Space Highlights Costa Concordia Catastrophe

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An amazing new radar image from space (above and below) shows the wreckage of the deadly Costa Concordia catastrophe just hours after the luxury cruise liner struck gigantic rocks jutting up from the shoreline of the Island of Giglio [Isola del Giglio] off the coast of Tuscany, Italy on Friday the 13th of January 2012, sending thousands of terrified tourists screaming for their very lives.

The radar image was snapped by chance during a routine reconnaissance survey by an Italian COSMO-SkyMed satellite orbiting above the Earth, according to the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and clearly shows the Costa Concordia wreckage and entire island of Giglio.

Our composite mosaic above combines the COSMO-SkyMed space radar image with the DigitalGlobe WorldView satellite photo, to provide a side-by-side comparison of the wreckage from the two different satellite systems which have different resolutions. Read my prior story with the stunning DigitalGlobe image – here at Universe Today.

At least 11 people were killed in the still unfolding tragedy and another two dozen people are still missing today, January 19.

Look at this dramatic new YouTube video of passengers scrambling to stay alive

The COSMO-SkyMed satellite normally takes repeat radar images every 16 days. In the case of an oil spill, the satellite would enter automatically an “emergency mode” and start taking very-high resolution images of the affected region, according to ASI.

Severe weather is approaching and could break the ship apart according to news reports.

Space Radar Image of Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Wreckage, Giglio, Italy- January 13, 2012
COSMO-SkyMed space radar image taken just hours after Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship ran aground off the shoreline of Giglio, Italy on 13 Jan. 2012. Credit: COSMO-SkyMed

The Costa Concordia is loaded with several thousand gallons of diesel fuel oil and officials are concerned about the very real potential for a leak which could contaminate the beautiful surroundings and harm the local environment

Location Map of Costa Concordia Shipwreck
off the Tuscan coastline of Giglio, Italy

The deadly Jan. 13 collision tore a 70 meter long gash in the ship’s hull, causing the Costa Concordia cruise liner to begin listing. Ultimately the ship fell on its side as it was steered into shallow waters.

Rescue operations resumed today although the ship is still shifting and hazardous to the brave rescue teams.

Helicopters lowered emergency workers onto the top of the wreckage. Divers working below used explosives to blast open new holes in the hull to get to any survivors.

And still more Italian emergency personnel could be seen scaling up the sides – all in a desperate attempt to reach survivors from every possible angle.

But sadly, hopes are fading. A 5 year old Italian girl and her father are among the missing.

Costa Concordia Shipwreck occurred on January 13, 2012

COSMO-SkyMed is a constellation of four Italian satellites that are equipped with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors that provide global coverage of the planet that serves both military and civilian uses such as seismic hazard analysis, environmental disaster monitoring, and agricultural mapping.

The COSMO-SkyMed space radar system provides all weather imagery and is funded by the Italian government and managed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

Satellite Close-up of Wreckage of Costa Concordia Luxury Cruise Ship of the coast of Giglio, Italy.
Credit: DIGITALGLOBE

Deadly Costa Concordia Shipwreck Captured in Stunning Image from Space

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The deadly Costa Concordia shipwreck has been captured in a stunning high resolution image from space that vividly shows the magnitude of the awful disaster with the huge luxury cruise ship precariously tipped on its side just off of the Tuscan coastline of the Italian Island of Giglio [Isola del Giglio]. See the full image and close-up below.

The newly released image was taken by a commercial owned by DigitalGlobe and flying some 300 miles overhead in low Earth orbit. The photo from a WorldView satellite was snapped on January 17, 2012 and shows exactly where the cruise ship ran aground five days ago on Friday, January 13, 2012 when it was steered way to close to the shoreline.

The photo is a surreal view of the massive ship on its side, submerged on the shoreline in the Mediterranean Sea snapped through scattered clouds. The sight is something really hard to believe – imagine the movie Titanic.

Location Map of Costa Concordia Shipwreck
off the Tuscan coastline of Giglio, Italy

The Costa Concordia cruise ship had just left port with over 3200 passengers and 1000 crew members aboard and was sailing extremely close to Giglio Island when it apparently struck underwater rocks that suddenly ripped a gigantic gash through the hull and capsized the ship, sending the terrified passengers scrambling for their lives.

The Mediterranean waters temperature was about 57 F.

Shocking infrared video shows people frantically crawling over the side of the listing ship – tilted completely on its side – frantically trying to get into the lifeboats using rope lines – at night.

Passengers said it was an “Out of body experience.” Strangers helping strangers

Amazing new video shows the rocks clearly embedded in the hull of the wrecked ship.

The ship soon began listing off the Italian coastline in darkness. At a moment’s notice objects started flying through the air and the frightened passengers boarded lifeboats as fast as they could, apparently with no practice training beforehand.

Full view of Capsized Costa Concordia Cruise Ship, Giglio, Italy- January 17, 2012
The Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship ran aground in the Tuscan waters off of Giglio,Italy on Friday, January, 2012. Giglio Island at left, the Mediterranean Sea at right. Credit: DIGITALGLOBE

11 people are confirmed dead so far and about two dozen people are still missing today as emergency rescue crews furiously search every nook and cranny on the cruise ship in a desperate bid to find anyone who may still be alive.

Giglio Island, Italy off the coastline of Tuscany - Location Costa Concordia Shipwreck
Click to enlarge

Rescues divers have used explosives to gain entry to portions of the ship searching for any survivors.

Rescue efforts were temporarily suspended today (Jan. 18) due to rough seas. The Costa Concordia is loaded with several thousand gallons of diesel fuel oil which could contaminate the surroundings.

Satellite Close-up of Wreckage of Costa Concordia Luxury Cruise Ship of the coast of Giglio, Italy. Credit: DIGITALGLOBE

According to the DigitalGlobe website, the Colorado based company owns and operates the most sophisticated constellation of high-resolution commercial earth imaging satellites – . QuickBird, WorldView-1 and WorldView-2 which are capable of collecting over 500 million km2 of quality imagery per year with high resolution cameras.

The DigitalGlobe satellites are used for defense and intelligence, civil agencies, mapping and analysis, environmental monitoring and oil and gas exploration.

Costa Concordia Shipwreck
Artist concept shows DigitalGlobe Quickbird satellite soaring over Italy and Sicily. Credit: DigitalGlobe

Now look in the opposite direction and see fabulous photos of the ISS crossing the Moon shot from a telescope in Houston, Texas
Dazzling Photos of the International Space Station Crossing the Moon!

Pompeii Eruption

Pompeii Eruption

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Imagine if you will that it’s bright sunny day in summer. The festival of Vulcanalia, dedicated to the Roman God of Fire, has just passed. Now you’re out looking for some produce to stock up for the coming winter. You’ve just finished a tour of the marketplace and are on your way home when suddenly, the mountain that your town sits at the foot of inexplicably erupts! Fire and ash rain down upon your city, people are baked alive and the town is encased in soot and dirt several meters thick. But, silver lining here, your bodies are so well preserved that when you’re dug up two thousand years later, they’ll have a pretty good idea what life was like at the time of your death. Yes, that’s how the Pompeii Eruption took place. The year was 79 CE; the place, a prosperous town named Pompeii located in the Bay of Naples. It was one of the most significant natural disasters of the ancient world, a major archaeological find in the 18th century, and is now one of the biggest tourist draws in all of Italy.

Based on the letters of Pliny the Younger, historians now believe the eruption to have taken place between the 24th of August and November 23rd, in the year 79 CE. Witnessing the eruption from across the Bay of Naples, Pliny gave a fist-hand account of the destruction. Although it was generally assumed that the people of Pompeii died as a result of suffocation from volcanic ash, a recent multidisciplinary volcanological and bio-anthropological study, merged with numerical simulations and experiments, indicated that heat was the main cause of death. The results of this study show that temperatures would have reached 250 °C up to a distance of 10 kilometers, which would have been sufficient to cause instant death, even if people were sheltered within buildings. The people and buildings of Pompeii were covered in up to twelve different layers of soil which was 25 meters deep and were therefore not discovered for almost two thousand years.

However, rediscovery of the lost city started in 1738, beginning with Pompeii’s sister town of Herculaneum which had also been destroyed in the eruption. At the time, the discovery was the accidental result of workmen digging so that they could build the foundations of a new summer palace for the king of Naples. The discovery of ancient buildings, left largely intact, led to a subsequent intentional excavation of Pompeii itself in 1764 by Francisco la Vega. In addition to intact buildings, many of which contained perfectly preserved Roman frescos, human remains were also uncovered.

For over 20 years now, Pompeii has been one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, attracting almost 2.6 million visitors in 2008 alone. In 1997, it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and attempts are underway to ensure that it can be preserved for future generations. Though the life-blood of the local economy, the pressure exerted by millions of tourists annually is taking its toll on this once-perfectly preserved site.

We have written many articles about Pompeii Eruption for Universe Today. Here’s an article about Mt. Vesuvius, and here are interesting facts about volcanoes.

If you’d like more info on volcanoes, check out the U.S. Geological Survey Homepage. And here’s a link to NASA’s Earth Observatory.

We’ve also recorded related episodes of Astronomy Cast about Volcanoes. Listen here, Episode 141: Volcanoes, Hot and Cold.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompeii#Vesuvius_eruption
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Vesuvius
http://touritaly.org/pompeii/pompeii-main.htm
http://wikitravel.org/en/Pompeii