New Australia fire images snapped from space show immense ash cloud


ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted this image of an “immense ash cloud” covering Australia. 

Luca Parmitano/ESA

“Talking to my crew mates, we realized that none of us had ever seen fires at such terrifying scale,” European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted on Monday as he shared alarming images of the Australia bushfires as seen from the International Space Station. 

The astronaut posted views showing what he described as “an immense ash cloud” captured at the time the ISS was flying toward sunset. 

Parmitano is currently on board the ISS along with three NASA astronauts and two Roscosmos cosmonauts. They have witnessed numerous disasters unfold below, including hurricanes and recent fires in the Amazon. But the crew hasn’t seen anything like the Australian fires.

Parmitano’s photos add to the devastating documentation of Australia’s bushfire crisis, which has run through rural communities, claiming houses, human lives and the lives of over a billion animals. 

The Australian government has even resorted to airdropping carrots and sweet potatoes to fire-threatened wallaby populations in New South Wales. 

Astronauts aren’t the only ones keeping an eye on the fires from orbit. A NASA and USGS Landsat 8 satellite image from Jan. 9 shows Kangaroo Island, home to nature reserves, with bushfire smoke spilling out across the ocean. 

NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite captured this view of Australia’s Kangaroo Island on fire on Jan. 9. 

NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey

Learn more about the Australia fires and how how you can help.

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