Tropical Storm Cristobal captured in astronaut, satellite imagery

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy caught this photo of Tropical Storm Cristobal from the International Space Station on June 8, 2020 as the storm battered the U.S. Gulf Coast. (Image credit: NASA/Chris Cassidy via Twitter)

Photos of now-Tropical Depression Cristobal taken by a NASA astronaut and a satellite show the powerful storm tearing through the Gulf Coast region and making its way north across the United States.

Astronaut Chris Cassidy on the International Space Station captured four views of Cristobal, then still a tropical storm, on Monday (June 8) as it appeared from 260 miles (420 kilometers) above Earth. 

"Best of luck to all of the folks in the gulf coast region who are about to deal with the weather from Tropical Storm #Cristobal," Cassidy wrote on Twitter

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Cristobal made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday evening (June 7), according to CBS News, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph(80 km/h).

On Tuesday (June 9), NASA released images from the Aqua satellite showing the depression moving north toward the Great Lakes region. The satellite's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) picked up the strongest regions of the storm using infrared images. Infrared data shows which parts of the storm are coldest; these regions are also the most powerful because they have thunderstorms that reach the highest in Earth's atmosphere, NASA said.

Early on Tuesday, MODIS data suggested that the strongest storms were "northeast and north of the elongated center over western Missouri, Iowa and Illinois," NASA said, and the instrument measured storm cloud-top temperatures as cold as minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly minus 57 degrees Celsius). 

This view of the now-Tropical Depression Cristobal shows the storm as it appeared on June 9, 2020 to the MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua Earth-monitoring satellite. (Image credit: NASA/NRL)

Cristobal, however, is quickly evolving and forecasts will change rapidly in the next few days. As of late afternoon Tuesday, the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center says Cristobal is moving across Missouri, with heavy rainfall expected in the middle and upper Mississippi Valley, as well as in the western Great Lakes region.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon:

  • Helio
    While it was in the Gulf, it was bizarre to see its directional plot head due north into Wisconsin. I would have bet money that the Coriolis effect would eventually overpower it and turn it east. I'm glad I didn't bet. That was the first to make it into Wisconsin, ever!
  • Lovethrust
    I thought the same thing, a very unusual track!