In Photos: The Southern California Wildfires of 2017 Seen from Space

SoCal Wildfires from Space
(Image credit: NASA)

Continuing Blazes


The devastating December 2017 wildfires in Southern California were visible all the way from space, as astronauts and satellites looked from their orbit. See photos of the wildfires as seen from space here. Shown Here: This image of the wildfires was taken by NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik from the International Space Station. "Thank you to all the first responders, firefighters, and citizens willing to help fight these California wildfires," he wrote.

Smoke Storm


From the International Space Station, smoke from the Southern California blazes is visible, as seen in this image taken by astronaut Randy Bresnik.

Spreading Wide


As seen in another of astronaut Randy Bresnik's photos from the space station, the Southern California's wildfires are raging, and the Santa Ana winds aren't making the fight any easier.

Plumes of Smoke


Smoke from the wildfires spreads across the state as the Santa Ana winds blow, feeding the fires in the process.

Good Timing


NASA's ER-2 aircraft, from the Armstrong Flight Research Center in Mojave, California, is seen here undertaking a test of the Cloud-Aerosol Multi-Angle Lidar (CAMAL) instrument encountered smoke from the wildfires.

Way up There


During an instrument test, NASA's ER-2 aircraft recorded smoke from the wildfires from about 65,000 feet. The smoke came from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California.

Earth Below


Smoke billows from burning some 65,000 feet below the ER-2 aircraft as it conducts and engineering flight test of the CAMAL instrument.

Viewing the Damage


On Dec. 5, 2017, the ESA's Sentinel-2 satellite used its Multi-Spectral Imager to capture data on the fires. Brown areas signify the burn scar while active fires look orange. Unburned vegetation displays green and local cities are gray.

ISS Sees the Smoke


On Dec. 6, 2017, astronaut Randy Bresnik captures images of the Los Angeles area wildfires from the International Space Station.

LA Engulfed


In this image from the ISS, Los Angeles is engulfed in smoke from the wildfires stoked by the Santa Ana winds.

More Flames to Come


California wildfires envelope the Los Angeles area in smoke as seen in the Dec. 6, 2017 image from the ISS.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.