As from above, so from below

Contributed by
Jan 10, 2012
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NASA's Earth Observatory site just put up this amazing picture. I have to say, this is one of the cooler pictures from the International Space Station that I've seen. Not for it's beauty or anything like that -- though it is starkly lovely -- but because of what it shows:

[Click to dicraternate.]

Obviously, that's a volcano on the right: Emi Koussi, in northern Africa. But look to the left, almost at the edge of the picture. See that faded ring? That's Aorounga -- an impact crater, some 10 - 15 km wide, formed when a chunk of cosmic debris hit the Earth about 300 million years ago! So these are two craters, one formed from processes happening deep below the Earth, and one from events from far above. Yet both can be seen at the same time, from one vantage point: orbiting our planet somewhere above the surface but beneath the rest of the Universe.

Image credit: NASA


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- Volcano followup: pix, video