Eye in sky sees California burn

A European satellite has captured this dramatic picture from space of the killer fires raging across California.

Vast plumes of smoke trail from the forests and way out to sea in the photos taken by Envisat, the biggest spacecraft ever launched to monitor the Earth.

At least one person has died, hundreds of homes have been destroyed and thousands are at risk from Los Angeles down to the Mexico border.

A quarter of a million people have been evacuated by Caifornian authorities and 1,500 National Guardsmen brought in to help fire-fighters.

Images from orbit taken on Monday, October 22, show the strength of the gale-force winds whipping the flames, with sand clearly visible being blown out over the Pacific.

Envisat was launched in March 2002 and carries ten sophisticated optical and radar instruments to provide continuous observation and monitoring of the Earth’s land, atmosphere, oceans and ice caps.

Photo: European Space Agency.

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Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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