Forest fires rage in Montana while on the same day Hurricane Hector swirls in the Pacific, and a NASA satellite is an eyewitness to both. A pair of images is now on-line showing these two unrelated, large-scale examples of nature's fury captured by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) during a single orbit of NASA's Terra satellite on August 14, 2000. The images are available at:
In the left image, huge smoke plumes rise from devastating wildfires in the Bitterroot Mountain Range near the Montana-Idaho border. Flathead Lake is near the upper left, and the Great Salt Lake is at the bottom right. Smoke accumulating in the canyons and plains is also visible. This image was generated from the MISR camera that looks forward at a steep angle (60 degrees); the instrument has nine different cameras viewing Earth at different angles. The smoke is far more visible when seen at this highly oblique angle than it would be in a conventional, straight- downward (nadir) view. The wide extent of the smoke is evident from comparison with the image on the right, a view of Hurricane Hector acquired from MISR's nadir-viewing camera. Both images show an area of approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles) in width and about 850 kilometers (530 miles) in length.
When this image of Hector was taken, the eastern Pacific tropical cyclone was located approximately 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) west of the southern tip of Baja California, Mexico. The eye is faintly visible and measures 25 kilometers (16 miles) in diameter. The storm was beginning to weaken, and 24 hours later the National Weather Service downgraded Hector from a hurricane to a tropical storm.
MISR, built and managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is one of several Earth-observing instruments aboard Terra, which was launched in December 1999. More information about MISR is available at: http://www-misr.jpl.nasa.gov .
JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
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