The former Hurricane Earl put on a striking weather display for astronauts on the International Space Station, impressing the crew with its strength even as it weakened to a tropical storm.
American astronaut Douglas Wheelock captured a weakening Earl earlier this week as the space station orbited 220 miles (354 km) above Earth. By Saturday, the hurricane had weakened to a tropical storm while moving north along the eastern U.S. coast. [ New photo of Earl from space station. ]
"Just moments after the previous photo caught this image of the eye of the storm as we flew over Hurricane Earl just to the east," Wheelock wrote Friday on Twitter, where he posted the photo. "It looks like magnificent chaos from up here on the Space Station an incredibly breathtaking sight to see this storm."
During this hurricane season, Wheelock has been photographing major storms as they appear in the space station's windows and posting the pictures on Twitter, where he writes under the name Astro_Wheels. He's shared shots of Earl and Hurricane Danielle.
Earlier this week, the three Americans and three Russians aboard the space station were able to watch Earl develop and intensify into a Category 4 beast with winds topping 135 mph (217 kph). But from the station high above Earth, all that strength and violence was hard to appreciate.
"[Earl] looks pretty from up here," said American astronaut Shannon Walker in a televised interview from the space station on Thursday. "But we know there's a lot of potential destruction associated with it, underneath the clouds, that we can't see."