Astronauts on ISS gaze into the eye of Hurricane Nigel (photos)

a hurricane seen from space, with a space station vehicle hanging in frame.
Hurricane Nigel seen from the International Space Station. (Image credit: Future)

Astronauts and satellites tracked Hurricane Nigel from space as the storm made its way across the Atlantic Ocean. 

The hurricane rose to  Category 2  status on Tuesday (Sept. 19) while traveling north-northwest at 14 miles per hour (22 kilometers per hour) across the Atlantic Ocean. Nigel’s top sustained winds reached speeds of 100 mph (160 kph). Meanwhile, astronauts on the International Space Station, along with multiple Earth-observing satellites, watched Nigel’s path closely as it swirled above ocean waters. 

NOAA's GOES-East satellite watched Hurricane Nigel — the sixth storm of this hurricane season — churning over the Atlantic Ocean between Sept. 19 and Sept. 20. Satellite images captured an aerial view of the hurricane’s massive eye and intricately rotating clouds as these two features fueled the storm system. 

Related: Satellites watch powerful Hurricanes Idalia and Franklin churn (video) 

The European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellite also observed Hurricane Nigel and its large, stormy eye on Sept. 19, when the storm was located approximately 621 miles (1,000 km) southeast of Bermuda. At the time, the hurricane was still classified as a Category 1 hurricane.  

NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli shared views of Hurricane Nigel from the space station. Moghbeli is the commander of the SpaceX Crew-7 mission, which launched to space on Aug. 26. 

"I went to the Cupola to take photos of the @csa_asc Canadarm, which was temporarily parked nearby, when I saw a massive storm," Moghbeli said in her Tweet. "The @Space_Station offers a valuable vantage point for observing various weather phenomena, whether through crew Earth observation or the many externally-mounted experiments. We passed right over the eye of Nigel! It kind of looked like a heart to me…"

From the vantage point of the space station’s Cupola, Hurricane Nigel appeared to blanket the Atlantic Ocean in a thick layer of white storm clouds. The crew passed directly over Nigel's eye, offering a unique vantage point to observe the growing storm. 

Although the hurricane is not expected to make landfall, it will send big waves across the Atlantic and bring lots of rain to the United States' east coast later this week and through the weekend. 

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Samantha Mathewson
Contributing Writer

Samantha Mathewson joined as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13.