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Stars, Sea, and Smoke from the ISS: Tournament Earth 2021

Stars, Sea, and Smoke from the ISS: Tournament Earth 2021

Stars, Sea, and Smoke from the ISS: Tournament Earth 2021

We started Tournament Earth with 32 photos taken by astronauts from the Interantional Space Station and now we are down to 8. All of the #1 seeds are gone. Two #8 seeds are dominating their groups. Who will win? Let’s take a closer look at the competitors still in the game. Then remember to vote for your favorites. The champion will be announced on April 13, 2021.

Stars in Motion vs. Cleveland Volcano

This matchup pits smoke against stars, but both have interesting stories.

Stars, Sea, and Smoke from the ISS: Tournament Earth 2021

The International Space Station (ISS) is constantly in motion. For astronaut photographers on board, that motion has consequences. For one, it makes it challenging to take photos. The same motion makes it possible to shoot spectacular photos like the one above. The image is compiled from a series of photographs taken by astronaut Don Pettit while he was onboard the ISS in April 2012. This composite was made from more than 72 individual long-exposure photographs taken over several minutes as the ISS traveled over the Caribbean Sea, across South America, and over the South Atlantic Ocean.

Stars, Sea, and Smoke from the ISS: Tournament Earth 2021

Astronaut Jeff Williams was the first to witness activity at the Cleveland Volcano on May 3, 2006. The Cleveland Volcano is one of the most active in the Aleutian Islands, which extend west-southwest from the Alaska mainland. It is a stratovolcano composed of alternating layers of hardened lava, compacted volcanic ash, and volcanic rocks. The event proved to be short-lived; two hours later, the plume had completely detached from the volcano. The ash cloud height could have been as high as 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) above sea level.

Stargazing from the ISS vs. Cruising Past the Aurora Borealis

This is the most stellar matchup of the tournament, literally. Two beloved star pictures face off in what will be one of the most difficult choices of the tournament.

Stars, Sea, and Smoke from the ISS: Tournament Earth 2021

An astronaut took this broad, short-lens photograph of Earth’s night lights while looking out over the remote reaches of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean. The ISS was passing over the island nation of Kiribati at the time, about 2600 kilometers (1,600 miles) south of Hawaii. Scientists identified the pattern of stars in the photo as our Milky Way galaxy (looking toward its center). The dark patches are dense dust clouds in an inner spiral arm of our galaxy; such clouds can block our view of stars toward the center. The curvature of the Earth crosses the center of the image and is illuminated by a variety of airglow layers in orange, green, and red.

Stars, Sea, and Smoke from the ISS: Tournament Earth 2021

Commonly known as the northern lights, these colorful ribbons of light appear to dance in the sky over the planet’s high latitudes, attracting sky chasers and photographers. Astronaut Randy “Komrade” Bresnik shot this photograph on September 15, 2017, as the space station passed over Ontario, Canada. Curtains of green—the most familiar color of auroras—dominate the light show, with hints of purple and red.

Rolling Through the Appalachians vs. Castellanus Cloud Tower

Stars, Sea, and Smoke from the ISS: Tournament Earth 2021

The Susquehanna River cuts through the folds of the Valley-and-Ridge province of the Appalachian Mountains in this photograph taken from the International Space Station by astronaut Christina Koch. The Valley-and-Ridge province is a section of the larger Appalachian Mountain Belt between the Appalachian Plateau and the Blue Ridge physiographic provinces. The northeast-southwest trending ridges are composed of Early Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. The valleys between them were made of softer rocks (limestone and shales) that were more susceptible to erosion; they are now occupied by farms.

Stars, Sea, and Smoke from the ISS: Tournament Earth 2021

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of a massive vertical cloud formation—known to meteorologists as cumulus castellanus—above Andros Island. The cloud name castellanus comes from the similarity to the crenellated towers or turrets of medieval castles. These clouds develop due to strong vertical air movement typically associated with thunderstorms.

Lake Van, Turkey vs. Typhoon Maysak from the Space Station

Stars, Sea, and Smoke from the ISS: Tournament Earth 2021

While orbiting on the International Space Station, astronaut Kate Rubins shot this photograph of part of Lake Van in Turkey, the largest soda or alkaline lake on Earth. Generally, soda lakes are distinguished by high concentrations of carbonate species. Lake Van is an endorheic lake—it has no outlet, so its water disappears by evaporation—with a pH of 10 and high salinity levels.

Stars, Sea, and Smoke from the ISS: Tournament Earth 2021

This photograph of super typhoon Maysak was taken by European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti as the International Space Station passed near the storm on March 31, 2015. The category 4 typhoon was headed for a possible landfall in the Philippines by the end of the week. It was unusual for the western Pacific to see such a strong storm so early in the year.

See all of the images and vote HERE. Follow @NASAEarth on social media for updates.

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