As Super Typhoon Trami migrates northwest across the Pacific Ocean toward Japan and Taiwan, astronauts on the International Space Station got quite the view of the intense storm.
European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst shared several pictures of the typhoon earlier yesterday (Sept. 27), which to him looked like water flushing down a drain.
"As if somebody pulled the planet's gigantic plug. Staring down the eye of yet another fierce storm," Gerst wrote on Twitter, along with the pictures. "Category 5 Super Typhoon Trami is unstoppable and heading for Japan and Taiwan. Be safe down there! #TyphoonTrami"
Gerst and the other five Expedition 56 astronauts are part of a network of observers keeping an eye on the intense storm. Another part of the network consists of Earth-orbiting satellites.
Also today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tweeted a short animation showing the typhoon in infrared light, courtesy of the Japanese Himawari-8 weather satellite.
"Less than ten days after Super Typhoon Mangkhut battered the Philippines and southern China, another powerful tropical cyclone is churning through the western Pacific Ocean," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials wrote in an accompanying statement. The agency warned that Japan's Ryukyu Islands and parts of Taiwan could be under threat from the storm later on this week.
On Monday (Sept. 24), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite took a picture of Typhoon Trami in visible light. The images showed that Trami's eye of the storm back then was an astounding 37 nautical miles in diameter (nearly 43 miles, or 68 kilometers), NASA officials said in a statement. That's about three times the length of Manhattan Island.
Trami was first classified as a tropical storm on Sept. 21, then grew stronger as the storm traveled across warmer waters in the Philippine Sea, according to NOAA. Trami's winds have been measured as high as 150 mph (241 km/h). It was expected to reach minimum speeds of 157 mph, or 253 km/hr in the next day. As of 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) yesterday, the maximum winds were about 104 mph or 167 km/hr, measured by the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite, NASA officials said.
- Elizabeth Howell, Space.com Contributor
Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for Space.com who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is pursuing a Ph.D. part-time in aerospace sciences (University of North Dakota) after completing an M.Sc. (space studies) at the same institution. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @HowellSpace.
- Elizabeth Howell, Space.com Contributor on