The Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia, located along the Pacific “ring of fire,”
includes more than 100 volcanoes. While most of these volcanoes are not
actively erupting, many are considered dangerous due to their eruptive
history and their proximity to population centers and air travel
corridors. This astronaut photograph highlights the summit crater and
snow-covered slopes of the Avachinsky stratovolcano as it pokes above a surrounding cloud deck.
The 2,741 meter (8,993 foot) high Avachinsky volcano has an extensive historical and geological record of eruptions. The latest activity occurred in 2008.
The large city of Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, is located approximately
25 kilometers (15 miles) to the southwest and is built over
approximately 30,000–40,000 year old debris deposits from an avalanche
that originated at Avachinsky—suggesting that the city may be at risk
from a similar hazard in the future. To the southeast (image right), the
large breached crater of Kozelsky Volcano is also visible above the
clouds. Kozelsky is a parasitic cone, formed by the eruption of material
from vents along the flank of Avachinsky.
The topography of the volcanoes is accentuated by shadows caused by
the relatively low sun angle, and by the oblique viewing angle. Oblique
images are taken looking outwards from the International Space Station,
rather than the “straight down” (or nadir) view typical of most
Astronaut photograph ISS027-E-20395
was acquired on May 2, 2011, with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera using an
800 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations
experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space
Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 27 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab
to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest
value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely
available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and
cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC.