One of the largest and most destructive fires raging
across California over the weekend of July 4 was the Basin Fire,
threatening Big Sur, and covering the coast in a thick blanket of smoke.
Astronaut Greg Chamitoff, observing the fires from 344 kilometers (215
miles) above the Earth aboard the International Space Station, was able
to capture the regional view of the smoke pall. At the time this image
was taken, more than 300 fires were burning in California alone. The
Basin Fire was triggered by a thunderstorm, had burned more than 80,000
acres, and as of July 10, was still only partially contained.
Astronaut photograph ISS017-E-10303
was acquired July 4, 2008, at 18:03 UTC, with a Nikon D2X digital
camera using an 180 mm lens as part of the ISS Crew Earth Observations
experiment. The image was taken by the Expedition 17 crew,
and is provided by the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson
Space Center. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced
to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program
supports the laboratory 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 Cynthia Evans, NASA-JSC.