Tonga Volcanic Eruption Effects Reached Space

by | May 10, 2022

The GOES-17 satellite captured images of an umbrella cloud generated by the underwater eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Jan. 15, 2022. Crescent-shaped bow shock waves and numerous lighting strikes are also visible. The full animated gif can be viewed on the Earth Imaging Journal home page at (Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens using GOES imagery courtesy of NOAA and NESDIS)

When the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha˜apai volcano erupted on Jan. 15, 2022, it sent atmospheric shock waves, sonic booms and tsunami waves around the world. Now, scientists are finding the volcano's effects also reached space.

Analyzing data from NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, mission and ESA's (the European Space Agency) Swarm satellites, scientists found that in the hours after the eruption, hurricane-speed winds and unusual electric currents formed in the ionosphere, Earth's electrified upper atmospheric layer at the edge of space.


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