Smoke plumes from fires, volcanoes, and pollution are all reaching high into the atmosphere and can therefore very easily be detected from space. Most recently, Astronaut Karen Nyberg shot a photograph of fires around Darwin and Melville Island, Australia, on August 5, 2013, while looking west across the Timor Sea from the International Space Station (ISS). She also took a photo looking straight down on the fires.
In January 2013, a new Earth-observing instrument was installed on the International Space Station (ISS): ISERV Pathfinder. The instrument consists of a commercial camera, a telescope, and a pointing system, all positioned to look through the Earth-facing window of ISS’s Destiny module.
When the International Space Station was first imagined, the idea was to create an unprecedented research platform to support microgravity investigations for the benefit of all humankind. That goal is now a reality, and researchers have not waited for completion to begin working on studies to build on our knowledge of science and technology in space. Because of this, we can already see some amazing breakthroughs. So just what has the space station yielded to humankind? You can discover the benefits for yourself, thanks to another international collaborative effort.