Astronauts on the Space Station (ISS) can take unusual and striking images of the Earth. Like this one providing a view of an eruption plume emanating from Kliuchevskoi, one of the many active volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula.
Astronaut photograph ISS038-E-5515 was acquired on November 16, 2013.
The nadir views—looking straight down—acquired by most satellites tend to flatten the landscape and reduce our sense of three-dimensional topography. In contrast, this photo was taken from the ISS with an oblique viewing angle that gives a strong sense of three dimensions, which are also accentuated by the shadows cast by the volcanic peaks. The result is a view similar to what you might see from a low-altitude airplane. The image was taken when the ISS was located over a ground position more than 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) to the southwest.
The plume—likely a combination of steam, volcanic gases, and ash—stretched to the east-southeast due to prevailing winds. The dark region to the north-northwest is likely a product of shadows and of ash settling out. Several other volcanoes are visible in the image, including Ushkovsky, Tolbachik, Zimina, and Udina. To the south-southwest of Kliuchevskoi on the Kamchatka Peninsula, lies Bezymianny Volcano, which appears to be emitting a small steam plume (at image center).