NASA Images Show Calmer Side of Italy's Fiery Mount Etna Nov

by Jet Propulsion Lab

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Newly released space images of Italy's Mount Etna, which began its latest eruption on October 27, depict the approximately 3,350-meter (11,000-foot) mountain in a calmer moment. The last major eruption of Europe's highest active volcano, located on the island of Sicily, was in 1992.

The two perspective views were created by overlaying images acquired from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal and Emission Radiometer on NASA's Terra spacecraft in July 2001 over topography, or elevation data, from NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, flown in February 2000.

The images are available from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., on the JPL Planetary Photojournal at: ; and .

In the first image, a southward-looking view, dark lava flows from the 1600's (center) to 1981 (long flow at lower right) are visible in the foreground, with the summit of Mount Etna above. The city of Catania, population 350,000, is barely visible behind Etna on the bay at the upper left. Catania was destroyed by a huge volcanic eruption in 1669. This week's eruption sent lava flows down the north and south sides of the volcano. The north flow is near the center of this image, but the Aster image was acquired before the latest eruption.

The second image is a southward-looking view of Mount Etna and the Aeolian Islands. The islands of Lipari and Vulcano are seen in the foreground, with Mount Etna and its dark lava flows visible on the skyline. Vulcano also hosts an active volcano, the cone of which is prominent.

The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission was flown aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour February 11 through 22, 2000. It used modified versions of the same instruments that comprised the Space Shuttle Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar that flew twice on Endeavour in 1994. The mission collected 3-D measurements of Earth's land surface using radar interferometry, which compares two radar images taken at slightly different locations to obtain elevation or surface-change information. To collect the data, engineers added a 60-meter (approximately 200-foot) mast, installed additional C-band and X-band antennas, and improved tracking and navigation devices. The mission is a cooperative project between NASA, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense and the German and Italian space agencies. It is managed by JPL for NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, Washington, D.C. More information is available at:

Aster is one of five Earth-observing instruments launched in December 1999 on NASA's Terra satellite. With its 14 spectral bands from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelength region and its high spatial resolution of 15 to 90 meters (about 50 to 300 feet), Aster will image Earth to map and monitor the planet's changing surface. Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry built the instrument. JPL is responsible for the American portion of the joint U.S./Japan science team that validates and calibrates the instrument and the data products.

More information about Aster is available at:

NASA's Earth Science Enterprise is a long-term research effort to understand and protect our home planet. Through the study of Earth, NASA will help to provide sound science to policy and economic decision-makers so as to better life here, while developing the technologies needed to explore the universe and search for life beyond our home planet.

The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.