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NASA satellite captures both optical, thermal images of island volcano

  |   May 6, 2013 at 4:52 PM
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GREENBELT, Md., May 6 (UPI) -- NASA says dramatic satellite photos of an erupting volcano in Indonesia shows the value of having several types of on-board imaging instruments available.

Both optical and thermal sensing instruments on the Landsat Data Continuity Mission satellite recorded an eruption in progress on the island of Paluweh in the Flores Sea, the space agency reported Monday.

While the satellite's Operational Land Imager detected the white cloud of smoke and ash drifting northwest, the Thermal Infrared Sensor revealed a hot spot at the top of the volcano where lava has been oozing in recent months," NASA scientists said.

"Each instrument by itself is magnificent," Betsy Forsbacka at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said. "When you put them together, with the clues that each give you on what you're seeing on Earth's surface, it's greater than either could do by themselves."

"We can image the white, representing the very hot lava, and right next to it we image the gray and black from the cooler surrounding ash," she said. "It's exciting that we're imaging such diverse thermal activity so well."

The Landsat program is a joint mission of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

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