The smoky remnants of October’s devastating fires still filled the southern California Central Valley on November 2, 2003. This “upside down” digital photograph was taken from the International Space Station from a position over the Pacific Northwest looking southward toward southern California.
At the time this image was acquired, the fires had finally been brought under control, but ash and smoke remained trapped in the atmosphere above the valley, a bowl of land ringed by the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east (left) and the Coast Range Mountains to the west (right). The band of clouds at the bottom of the image is at an altitude above the mountains. The amber color in the sunglint over the Pacific coastal waters (right) also indicates the presence of smoke. At the top center of the image, the Mojave Desert comes to a point at the southern end of the Central Valley.
This image is part of a series of images of the California fires taken by the ISS crew. Just a week earlier, the astronauts observed and documented the California fires at their worst.
ISS008-E-05095 was taken with a Kodak DCS760 digital camera equipped with a 400mm lens. Image interpretation provided by Julie A. Robinson (Lockheed Martin / Earth Observations Laboratory, Johnson Space Center). 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.