9
$\begingroup$

The google news said "Lava from the Kilauea volcano can be seen from space" but it just links to the YouTube video of the same name. The screen shot of the video below shows a small ESA credit at the top left. If it's a multispectral image it may include infrared wavelengths where lava will be much brighter.

I was wondering, can ISS astronauts see the lava from the Kilauea volcano at night glowing red? If not, is it because they haven't passed over Hawaii recently, or is it not big or bright enough in visible wavelengths? I wonder if they have binoculars, or something with a large f/no.

Also curious if any of them have taken any photos at night...

enter image description here

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Photos at night in general? There are plenty from Astronauts on the ISS, @AstroKomrade (Randy Bresnik) has several on his twitter and instagram feeds. Although the likely header of your news report is a click grab detailing that satellites can image it or other such things (if astronauts can't see it with the naked eye). Re: Binoculars. I believe one of the ISS astronauts had recently photographed a colleague using binoculars, but I could be wrong. $\endgroup$ – Edlothiad May 28 '18 at 11:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Edlothiad yes I've asked at least two questions about night photos from the ISS; What caused this bright light from the ground at night seen from the ISS? and also Has an astronaut ever seen pixies, ELVEs, sprites or blue jets (without a camera)? but this is about lava. That's great news about the binoculars! Night time photography or viewing of extended objects (not stars) benefits from low f/number. $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 28 '18 at 11:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Lava flows are narrow, several meters across. I suppose a single lava flow will not be seen from ISS by unaided eye. But if there are many lava flows, the area could be seen as glow during night, if not obscured by volkanic ash and smoke from fires. $\endgroup$ – Heopps May 28 '18 at 11:31
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Heopps there's a substantial distinction between "see" and "resolve". Seeing a dot of red light is good enough for a "yes" to this question. It comes down to photons/second at which wavelengths. $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 28 '18 at 11:32
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Heopps Here's another question about seeing stuff from space; the photos in each of the answers are all interesting: Could an ISS astronaut photograph something like this 1km “Van Gogh” if they knew it was there? $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 28 '18 at 16:51
9
$\begingroup$

This is a photo of Kilauea taken from the ISS, by Drew Feustel:

enter image description here

I can't see any obvious lava.

It is possible to see hot lava from the ISS. Here's a nighttime photo of an eruption of the Etna (in March 2017), which does show a lava flow (the dark red lines in the lower left quadrant):

enter image description here

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Yep! There it is, excellent! (original Tweet) $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 28 '18 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ The current lava flows would not be shown in the ISS picture anyway. They are quite a ways away from the caldera. You can see the white rectangular visitor center on the rim - it is to the northeast of the caldera. The lava flows are far away to the southeast of the caldera (more east than south), and by my highly advanced metric analysis (using my finger) about nine times as far away from the caldera as the visitor center is. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble May 28 '18 at 18:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ oops, that white rectangular thing is probably the hotel, not the v.c. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble May 28 '18 at 19:15
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble how often do you have your finger calibrated? $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 28 '18 at 23:01
6
$\begingroup$

Yes, here's a twitter post from astronaut Ricky Arnold showing the glow. Click for full size.

tweet of Kilauea from @astro_ricky aboard ISS

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I took the liberty. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Jun 20 '18 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I could not figure out how to copy the link @uhoh posted while using the mobile app. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jun 20 '18 at 17:13
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I took one as well; with the larger image it's possible to see some detail. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 20 '18 at 18:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.