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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 15:34 GMT
Etna eruption viewed from space
Etna seen from the International Space Station, Nasa
Etna seen from the International Space Station

Astronauts on board the International Space Station have taken two spectacular images of erupting Mt Etna in Sicily.

The crew were able to observe Etna's recent activity, and photograph the details of the eruption plume, as well as smoke from fires triggered by the lava as it flowed down the 3,350-metre-high (11,000 feet) mountain.

Both of these images are looking obliquely to the south-east over the island of Sicily.

The wide view shows the ash plume curving out towards the horizon, caught first by low-level winds blowing to the south-east, and to the south towards Africa at higher altitudes.

Open in new window : Expedition Five crew
Click here for image captured by the crew

The lighter-coloured plumes downslope and north of the summit, seen in the close-up view at the top of the page, are produced by forest fires ignited by lava flowing into the pine trees on the slopes of the mountain.

Etna is currently undergoing one of its most vigorous eruptions in years.

It was triggered by a series of earthquakes on 27 October. The astronaut images were taken three days later on 30 October at about 1130 GMT from an altitude of 400 km (250 miles).

Etna seen from the International Space Station, Nasa
Dust plume is blown towards Africa
See also:

30 Oct 02 | Europe
27 Jul 01 | Science/Nature
29 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
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