Press Release

Space Images Show Extent of Congo Volcano Devastation

By SpaceRef Editor
February 1, 2002
Filed under , ,

New images from three NASA spacecraft chronicle the
degree of devastation caused by the January 17th eruption of
the Nyiragongo volcano in Congo.

The eruption killed more than 100 people and forced the
evacuation of hundreds of thousands more. At least 12,000
homes were destroyed in and around Goma, a city of half a
million people on the north shore of Lake Kivu.

The images combine data from the Shuttle Radar Topography
Mission, Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection
Radiometer, or Aster, and Landsat to depict areas affected by
the eruption of the approximately 3,469-meter (11,385 foot)
volcano. The volcan is one of eight located in the East
African Rift Valley on the borders of the Democratic Republic
of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Included are both pre-eruption
and post-eruption perspective views, a post-eruption map view
and a pre-eruption stereoscopic view (anaglyph). The extent
of lava flow is clearly visible in the post-eruption views.

The images are available at: .

The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission was flown aboard
Space Shuttle Endeavour February 11-22, 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. More information is available at: .

The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection
Radiometer is one of five Earth-observing instruments launched
December 18, 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 for the
next six years to map and monitor the changing surface of our
planet. The broad spectral coverage and high spectral
resolution of Aster will provide scientists in numerous
disciplines with critical information for surface mapping and
monitoring dynamic conditions and temporal change. Example
applications are: monitoring glacial advances and retreats;
monitoring potentially active volcanoes; identifying crop
stress; determining cloud morphology and physical properties;
evaluating wetlands; thermal pollution monitoring; coral reef
degradation; surface temperature mapping of soils and geology;
and measuring surface heat balance. More information is
available at: .

Landsat is a cooperative mission between NASA and the
United States Geological Survey, Reston, Va. Landsat 7,
launched April 15, 1999, is the latest in a series that began
with Landsat 1 in 1972. The satellite is gathering data from
Earth’s land surface and surrounding coastal regions. Analysis
of the data will provide scientists with new information on
deforestation, receding glaciers and crop monitoring. Images
are archived, processed and distributed by the U.S. Geological
Survey, which is also responsible for day-to-day operations of
the satellite. More information is available at: .

NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise is a long-term research
and technology program designed to examine Earth’s land,
oceans, atmosphere, ice and life as a total integrated system.

JPL is a division of the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena.

SpaceRef staff editor.