The Day Fire started in Los Padres National Forest north of Los Angeles on September 4, 2006. Easterly winds on September 17 blew the smoke westward, out to sea, and International Space Station astronauts observed this wind shift. In this astronaut photograph, the forested mountains north of Los Angeles appear dark green, and the smoke appears gray. Dense farmland appears at the south end of California’s Central Valley, in the upper left corner. Near top center, the western corner of the Mojave Desert is framed by a “V” of mountains. In the Mojave just beyond the top edge of the image (visible in the large version) are dry lakes that appear as white patches; one of these lakes acts as a landing site for the Space Shuttle.
The extent of the Day Fire smoke plume can be gauged from the gray urban region of greater Los Angeles (image right, center), which stretches along 80 kilometers (50 miles) of coastline. The plume obscures the northern Channel Islands, but the southern Channel Islands are silhouetted against the ocean, in the foreground. In the days before and after this photo was taken, shifting winds moved the smoke in different directions. On September 17, the plume was caught by westerly winds that steered the smoke back towards California—the leading edge of the gray smoke can be seen heading towards San Clemente Island.
Astronaut photograph ISS013-E-81687 was acquired September 17, 2006, with a Kodak 760C digital camera using a 28 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Group, Johnson Space Center. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.
- ISS - Digital Camera