As the coast of Texas prepares to be pummeled by the fast-approaching Hurricane Harvey, NASA satellites and astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are keeping an eye on the potentially life-threatening storm.
Yesterday (Aug. 24), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) upgraded Harvey from a tropical storm to a hurricane as weather satellites observed the storm gaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico. Harvey is projected to make landfall over Corpus Christi, Texas, by midnight tonight (Aug. 25) and could linger over Texas and Louisiana for up to five days. The huge amounts of rainfall brought by the hurricane are expected to cause "catastrophic and life-threatening flooding" in parts of Texas and Louisiana, the NHC said in a public advisory.
NASA released new video yesterday of Hurricane Harvey swirling over the gulf as seen from the ISS, which orbits about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Earth's surface. ISS crewmembers also shared their own photos of Harvey. [Hurricane Harvey: Photos of the Massive Storm from Space]
"God bless Texas, may you weather the storm as you always have," NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik tweeted on Thursday.
A few hours later, his crewmate and fellow NASA astronaut Jack Fischer tweeted another view and wrote, "Oh boy — looks like a ton of rain is about to unload. Here's a prayer for family, friends & everyone in #HurricaneHarvey's path — stay safe."
NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have several satellites monitoring the storm: two GOES weather satellites, the Global Precipitation Mission (GPM) core observatory satellite and the Aqua satellite. The European Space Agency is also watching Harvey with the agency's Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite.
NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, which lies a little over 200 miles (320 km) northeast of where Harvey is projected to make landfall, will be hit by the storm, but the facility remains open at this time. Houston has been placed under a flood watch and could see up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rainfall between Friday and Tuesday (Aug. 29), according to JSC's Emergency Management office.