NASA’s Operation IceBridge scientists have wrapped up another season of their six-year polar ice survey. After weeks of cruising low over the ice, they usually return with stacks of jaw-dropping photos of rarely seen parts of the world—this spring’s expedition was no exception.
Early in April 2013, Mount Etna in Sicily appeared whimsical, blowing smoke rings composed not of actual smoke, but of steam, volcanic gases and some volcanic ash. Then on April 18, the Advanced Land Imager on the Earth Observing-1 satellite observed additional activity.
On April 14, 2013, NASA’s Terra satellite observed a striking cloud formation extending more than 600 miles from the California coast out across the Pacific Ocean. The cloudbank hugged the coastlines of California and Baja California, spanning hundreds of kilometers north to south and east to west.
Tolbchik Volcano isn’t a single peak, but a complex of volcanic features superimposed on one another. The varied shapes result from differences in lava chemistry, gas content and temperature.
In northwest Australia, the Great Sandy Desert holds great geological interest as a zone of active sand dune movement and noticeable fire scars.
Somewhat symbolic of the lack of clarity surrounding a Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on American citizens in Benghazi, a NASA satellite captured a massive dust storm over Libya’s second-largest city on March 30, 2013.
The Namib Desert in southwestern Africa is one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. It rarely rains, and Namibia has the second lowest population density in the world, trailing only Mongolia. Yet something draws people deep into the desert, despite the harsh environment.
Texas is known for many things, but snow on the ground typically isn’t among them. This astronaut photo captures a late February 2013 record snowfall that left 17 inches of snow blanketing north Texas, just south of Amarillo.
On Feb. 17, 2013, NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image of an atmospheric eddy off the coast of Southern California. The swirling, circular cloud pattern is known to meteorologists as a Catalina eddy or coastal eddy.
Rio San Pablo, as it empties into the Golfo de Montijo in Veraguas, Panama, is the “first light” from the International Space Station’s new ISERV Pathfinder Earth observation (EO) system. The image was acquired at 1:44 p.m. local time on Feb. 16, 2013. NASA hopes the new system “will really make a difference in people’s lives.”