Tonga volcano ash cloud seen from space; see photo taken on ISS

The dense ash plume from the eruption of the underwater volcano in Tonga , in the South Pacific, was recorded by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The image sequence reveals the dark cloud of ash released by volcanic activity, which reached an altitude of 39 km.

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At the time of the eruption, several satellites were flying over the Polynesian island of Tonga and recorded what is considered the biggest volcanic explosion in recent times. Meanwhile, at 400 km altitude, astronauts aboard the ISS also observed the extent of the ash clouds.

A sequence of four photos was taken by NASA astronaut Kayla Barron on January 16 — the day after the eruption. The ISS was flying over New Zealand, located approximately 2,000 km south of the volcano in Tonga. In the images, the sky appears very dark due to the dense cloud of volcanic ash.

The volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai had already shown an increase in its activities in the previous weeks, until, on January 15, the eruption caught the world's attention. Not only because of its intensity, but also because of the side effects of the event, such as tsunamis that hit parts of South America and the USA.

Satellite operator MAXAR shared images of the main island of the Kingdom of Tonga, Tongatapu, where it is possible to compare the devastation of the eruption. Local teams continue to work to assess the extent of the damage caused.

For now, tsunami warnings are on hold, but volcanologists say the still-active underwater volcano could erupt again in the coming weeks — which could also trigger another tidal wave.

Read the article on Canaltech .

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