Astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured a breathtaking image of a massive volcanic eruption that occurred over the weekend. The amazing photograph was snapped on Saturday morning when the ISS passed over the uninhabited volcanic island Raikoke as it rumbled to life and unleashed an enormous plume of ash and smoke into the sky. According to a post from NASA, volcanic monitoring stations measure the height of the plume to be around 8 to 10 miles.
Thanks to the remarkable timing of the flyover, the astronauts were able to capture the eruption as it was seemingly nearing its peak, taking on an eerie mushroom cloud-like shape. The space agency explained that the top of the plume is known as the ‘umbrella region’ and consists of dense ash rife with “sharp fragments of rock and volcanic glass.” Noting the curious rings which formed at the base of the plume, NASA suggested that those features are probably water vapor clouds.
Raikoke (Russian: Райкоке, Japanese: 雷公計島), also spelled Raykoke, is as of 2019 an uninhabited volcanic island near the centre of the Kuril Islands chain in the Sea of Okhotsk in the northwest Pacific Ocean, 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) across Golovnin Strait from Matua. Its name is derived from the Ainu language, from “hellmouth”.