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Russia's devastation of Mariupol, Ukraine visible from space in satellite photos

Maxar Technologies' Worldview-3 satellite captured this image of burning apartment buildings in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on March 22, 2022.
Maxar Technologies' Worldview-3 satellite captured this image of burning apartment buildings in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on March 22, 2022. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

Russian forces continue to destroy apartment buildings and other civilian infrastructure throughout the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, new satellite imagery shows.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, has hit Mariupol particularly hard. Russia views the capture of the southeastern port city as a key priority (opens in new tab) and has hammered it hard with missiles and artillery, destroying houses, shopping malls and many other buildings in the process.

Newly released satellite imagery provides a glimpse of some of the damage. Two photos captured on Tuesday (March 22) by Maxar Technologies' Worldview-3 satellite, for example, show smoke rising from bomb-shattered apartment blocks in Mariupol, some of the houses around them reduced to rubble as well.

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Maxar Technologies' Worldview-3 satellite captured this image of buildings on fire in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on March 22, 2022. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

And a satellite operated by San Francisco-based company Planet captured a shot of fires blazing in eastern Mariupol on Sunday (March 20). 

This photo, taken on March 20, 2022 by a satellite operated by Planet, shows fires burning in eastern Mariupol. (Image credit: Planet Labs PBC)

A Planet spacecraft also snapped a photo on Monday (March 21) of a destroyed Mariupol theater in which civilians had been sheltering, seeking safety from the shelling. The Russian word for "children" is visible in the photo, written in large white letters near the theater to indicate that it was not a military target.

This photo, taken by a Planet satellite on March 21, 2022, shows a destroyed theater in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. The Russian word for "children" is written in white outside the theater. (Image credit: Planet Labs PBC)

Ukrainian officials have said that about 1,300 people were hunkered down in the theater when it was bombed on March 16. Perhaps 200 survived the attack, according to CNN (opens in new tab), though it's tough to get an accurate count because Mariupol remains a war zone.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).  

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.