From their vantage point in space, astronauts can see both the beauty and the fragility of our planet. ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli took this image of Hurricane Harvey on August 24, 2017, 400 km high from the International Space Station. The hurricane hit mainland USA and caused flooding and damage affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Hurricanes are one of the natural extreme weather events that can only be tracked by satellites. Satellites provide up-to-date imagery so that authorities know which precautionary measures to take and when to take them. Satellites deliver information on a storm’s extent, wind speed and path, and on key features such as cloud thickness, temperature, and water and ice content. Hurricanes pick up huge amounts of energy and moisture as they pass over the warm ocean. Some scientists think that global warming may increase the number of hurricanes and make them even more powerful.
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