• The southern California wildfires could be seen by the International Space Station crew from their vantage point in low Earth orbit. NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik photographed the plumes of smoke on Dec. 5, 2017. Credit: NASA/Randy Bresnik
  • Copious columns of gray-brown smoke pour off the edge of California's coast in this image of the Thomas Fire taken by NASA's Aqua satellite on Dec. 7, 2017. This raging inferno that has been described by firefighters as a "war zone" started just four days ago on December 4. Credit: NASA

NASA Astronauts and Satellites Snap Eyepopping Views of Deadly Southern California Wildfires from Space

Ken Kremer Space UpClose 8 Dec 2017

NASA astronauts working aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and NASA satellites orbiting Earth are snapping eyepopping views of this week’s deadly and destructive wildfires impacting Southern California in Los Angeles, San Diego and other locations.

NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik has been photographing the southern California wildfires from his vantage point on the ISS circling overhead in low Earth orbit since Dec. 5.

Bresnik, who currently serves as Commander of the Expedition 53 crew of 6, has been sharing wildfire images on his social media accounts and several are reposted here.

He wrote: "Thank you to all the first responders, firefighters, and citizens willing to help fight these California wildfires."

One reader asked him “if we can see the SoCal fires from space. Yes Faith, unfortunately we can. May the Santa Ana’s die down soon,” Bresnik replied.

At least one person has been killed and over 500 hundred homes and businesses have been completely consumed and gutted by winds that reached near hurricane force at times.

The fires have been described by many as being like a blowtorch scorching everything in their path wreaking havoc and panic on whole communities.

Major highways have been closed or had lanes reduced.

6 major fires are reported as burning nearly 150,000 acres so far.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles, Ventura, San Diego and Santa Barbara counties.

A new orbital view focusing on Southern California and taken by NASA’s Aqua satellite was released today, Dec 8.

“Copious columns of gray-brown smoke pour off the edge of California's coast in the image of the Thomas Fire taken by NASA's Aqua satellite on Dec. 7, 2017. This raging inferno that has been described by firefighters as a "war zone" started just four days ago on December 4,” NASA wrote.

“Burning more than 96,000 acres and 150 structures to date according to Inciwebthis fire has been urged on by one particular meteorological phenomenon in California, the Santa Ana (also known as the Diablo or Devil) winds.”

“These winds which although typical at this time of year have been uncharacteristically ferocious of late. In fact, for the first time in the history of wind warnings, a purple wind advisory, meaning "extreme", has been issued. This advisory means winds could top 80 mph -- hurricane strength. Winds at this strength would effectively shut down fire fighting efforts, and these winds have been the catalyst that have moved this fire so far so fast.”

“On December 7, firefighters noted that fire was moving at a rate of one football field length every second. Even if the winds weaken there is another frightening risk that could arise--unpredictability. The winds slowing down could prompt a near instant change of wind direction putting firefighters in harm's way.”

“With only 5% of the fire contained at presentthe undertaking to quell this fire could be an arduousone.”

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