Astronaut Ed Lu snapped this photo of the eye of Hurricane Isabel from the International Space Station on September 13, 2003 at 11:18 UTC. At the time, Isabel was located about 450 miles northeast of Puerto Rico. It had dropped to a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, packing winds of 150 miles per hour with gusts up to 184 miles per hour.
After originating in the eastern Atlantic west of the Cape Verde Islands, Isabel became the second major hurricane of the 2003 Atlantic season when it was declared a Category 3 storm by the National Hurricane Center on September 8. Over the next four days, Isabel strengthened into an extremely powerful Category 5 hurricane with winds estimated at 160 mph before weakening as it approached the eastern seaboard of the US.
Why is this image unique?: This photo shows the structure of Isabel's eyewall. No other sensor images the eyewalls of hurricane with such detail. Previous work using images from the Shuttle of the eyewall of Hurricane Amleia allowed three dimensional studies of the eyewall structure.
These images were used by the National Hurricane Center, NOAA, the Weather Channel and many other media organizations covering the news story.
ISS007-E-14745, ESC with 180mm lens, 13 September 2003 at 11:18 UTC.
The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov