Swirling clouds over St Helena, photographed from space

709523main_cloud_vortices_1600_946-710The South Atlantic winds blow for hundreds of miles without interruption: but when they strike the high peaks of St Helena, they spin around the leeward side of the island. If there are clouds in the sky, they form swirling patterns that are visible from high above, with ripples along the island’s edge like the retreating bow wave of a ship. This true-colour shot was captured by the US space agency, NASA, when its Terra satellite passed over the island on 15 November 2012. It was taken with a Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer.

The patterns formed by the clouds can be predicted by mathemeticians, according to NASA.

St Helena’s cloud trail appeared in NASA’s Image of the Day gallery, which also features shots of an eruption on the sun, the aftermath of a storm on Saturn, and a crater with a smiley face on Mercury. Find it here.

Star-gazers will also enjoy NASA’s astronomy gallery, here.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team

Cloud Vortices Off Saint Helena Island – NASA website

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