PIA21946: New NASA Images of Irma's Towering Clouds
 Target Name:  Earth
 Is a satellite of:  Sol (our sun)
 Mission:  Terra
 Spacecraft:  Terra
 Instrument:  MISR
 Product Size:  4715 x 4843 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  JPL
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA21946.tif (24.52 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA21946.jpg (1.312 MB)

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On Sept. 7, the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument on NASA's Terra satellite passed over Hurricane Irma at approximately 11:20 a.m. local time. The MISR instrument comprises nine cameras that view the Earth at different angles, and since it takes roughly seven minutes for all nine cameras to capture the same location, the motion of the clouds between images allows scientists to calculate the wind speed at the cloud tops.

The animated GIF shows Irma's motion over the seven minutes of the MISR imagery. North is toward the top of the image.

This composite image shows Hurricane Irma as viewed by the central, downward-looking camera (left), as well as the wind speeds (right) superimposed on the image. The length of the arrows is proportional to the wind speed, while their color shows the altitude at which the winds were calculated.

At the time the image was acquired, Irma's eye was located approximately 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of the Dominican Republic and 140 miles (230 kilometers) north of its capital, Santo Domingo. Irma was a powerful Category 5 hurricane, with wind speeds at the ocean surface up to 185 miles (300 kilometers) per hour, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The MISR data show that at cloud top, winds near the eye wall (the most destructive part of the storm) were approximately 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour), and the maximum cloud-top wind speed throughout the storm calculated by MISR was 135 miles per hour (220 kilometers per hour). While the hurricane's dominant rotation direction is counter-clockwise, winds near the eye wall are consistently pointing outward from it. This is an indication of outflow, the process by which a hurricane draws in warm, moist air at the surface and ejects cool, dry air at its cloud tops.

These data were captured during Terra orbit 94267. MISR data are available through the NASA Langley Research Center; for more information, go to https://eosweb.larc.nasa.gov/project/misr/misr_table. MISR was built and is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. The Terra spacecraft is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The MISR data were obtained from the NASA Langley Research Center Atmospheric Science Data Center in Hampton, Virginia. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena.

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