During the STS-68 mission (September 30-October 11, 1994), the crew members of Space Shuttle Endeavour used a 70 mm camera to photograph Klyuchevskaya Sopka (also known as Kliuchevskoi), a stratovolcano, the highest mountain on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia and the highest active volcano of Eurasia. The eruption was new when this photo was taken. It was photographed from 115 nautical miles (213 kilometers) above Earth.
The photo of the Kliuchevskoi Volcano above was taken during the STS-68, Space Radar Lab 2 (SRL2) mission, between September 30 and October 11, 1994. STS-68 was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida on 30 September 1994. The crewmembers were: Michael A. Baker (Commander), Terrence W. Wilcutt (Pilot), Steven L. Smith (Mission Specialist 1), Daniel W. Bursch (Mission Specialist 2), Peter J.K. Wisoff (Mission Specialist 3) and Thomas D. Jones (Mission Specialist 4). The primary payload on this flight is the Space Radar Laboratory (SRL-2), making its second flight to study the Earth’s environment.
Space Shuttle Endeavour was constructed to replace Challenger, which was lost in 1986. Its first mission, STS-49, was in May 1992 and its 25th and final mission, STS-134, was in May 2011.
Kliuchevskoi is a very active volcano, which erupted more than 50 times in the last three-century only. The first recorded eruption occurred in 1697, and it has been almost continuously active ever since.
Kliuchevskoi is the highest mountain on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia and the highest active volcano of Eurasia. It is 4,750 m (15,580 ft) high with a prominence of 4,649 meters (15,253 ft). Its steep, symmetrical cone towers about 100 kilometers (60 mi) from the Bering Sea. The volcano is part of the natural Volcanoes of the Kamchatka UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The photograph above provides a view of an eruption plume emanating from Kliuchevskoi Volcano, one of the many active volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Nadir views – looking “straight down” – that are typical of orbital satellite imagery tend to flatten the appearance of the landscape by reducing the sense of three dimensions of the topography.
In contrast, this image was taken from the ISS with a very oblique viewing angle that gives a strong sense of three dimensions, which is accentuated by the shadows cast by the volcanic peaks. This resulted in a view similar to what a person might see from a low-altitude airplane. The image was taken when the International Space Station was located over a ground position more than 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) to the southwest.
The plume – likely a combination of steam, volcanic gases, and ash – is extended to the east-southeast by prevailing winds; the dark region to the north-northwest of the plume is likely a product of both shadow and ash settling out.
Several other volcanoes are visible in the image, including Ushkovsky, Tolbachik, Zimina, and Udina. To the south-southwest of Kliuchevskoi lies Bezymianny Volcano which appears to be emitting a small steam plume (visible at center).
Below, the location of Kliuchevskoi Volcano (Klyuchevskaya Sopka) on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia.