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Astronaut and satellites see tropical storms Laura and Marco from space

Satellites have spotted tropical storms Marco and Laura as they simultaneously marched toward the Gulf of Mexico. 

After being downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm on Sunday (Aug. 23), Marco made landfall along the coast of Louisiana late on Monday (Aug. 24), bringing rainfall, gusty winds and storm surge just before weakening into a post-tropical cyclone, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). 

Tropical Storm Laura intensified into a Category 1 hurricane on Tuesday morning (Aug. 25) and is expected to strengthen into a major Category 3 storm by the time it makes landfall along the Louisiana and Texas coasts early Thursday (Aug. 26). 

Related: How Earth-orbiting satellites are tracking the 2020 hurricane season

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NOAA's GOES-East satellite tracked Tropical Storms Marco and Laura. Satellite data from Aug. 24 revealed differences in the atmosphere, including estimates on low-level moisture, volcanic ash, airborne dust or sand, sea surface temperature, and cloud particle size, which helps forecasters monitor the storms.

NOAA's GOES-East satellite tracked Tropical Storms Marco and Laura. Satellite data from Aug. 24 revealed differences in the atmosphere, including estimates on low-level moisture, volcanic ash, airborne dust or sand, sea surface temperature, and cloud particle size, which helps forecasters monitor the storms. (Image credit: NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory)
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While Marco made landfall in Louisiana late on Aug. 24, Tropical Storm Laura is following close behind, expected to make landfall along the Texas-Louisiana border on August 26.

While Marco made landfall in Louisiana late on Aug. 24, Tropical Storm Laura is following close behind, expected to make landfall along the Texas-Louisiana border on Aug. 26. (Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens/NASA EOSDIS/LANCE/GIBS/Worldview/JPSS)
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NOAA's GOES-16 satellite also tracked Tropical Storm Marco as it neared the mouth of the Mississippi on Aug. 24, 2020.

NOAA's GOES-16 satellite also tracked Tropical Storm Marco as it neared the mouth of the Mississippi on Aug. 24, 2020. (Image credit: NOAA/NESDIS/STAR GOES-East)
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The MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured Tropical Storm Laura centered north of the Cayman Islands on Aug. 24, 2020.

The MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured Tropical Storm Laura centered north of the Cayman Islands on Aug. 24, 2020. (Image credit: NASA Worldview)
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On Aug. 25 at 12:35 a.m. EDT (0435 GMT) the MODIS instrument that flies aboard NASA’s Terra satellite revealed the most powerful thunderstorms (yellow) were around Laura’s center where cloud top temperatures were as cold as minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 62.2 Celsius).

On Aug. 25 at 12:35 a.m. EDT (0435 GMT) NASA’s Terra satellite revealed the most powerful thunderstorms (yellow) were around Laura's center, where cloud-top temperatures were as cold as minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 62.2 degrees Celsius). (Image credit: NASA/NRL)
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The NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite captured this visible-light image of Tropical Storm Laura as it was closing in on the northern Leeward Islands, on Aug. 21, 2020.

The NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite captured this visible-light image of Tropical Storm Laura as it was closing in on the northern Leeward Islands, on Aug. 21, 2020. (Image credit: NASA Worldview/EOSDIS)

The International Space Station captured views of what was then Tropical Storm Laura on Sunday (Aug. 23), prior to the storm making landfall in Cuba. A video captures an aerial view of Tropical Storm Laura, taken approximately 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the storm by external cameras on the orbiting lab. 

And today (Aug. 25), NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, who is currently living and working on the orbiting laboratory, shared his view of now-Hurricane Laura.

NASA's Terra satellite also captured infrared views of Tropical Storm Marco using its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument, which recorded temperature information from Marco's cloud tops on Tuesday at 12:30 a.m. EDT (0430 GMT). 

The satellite views showed remnant thunderstorms northeast of the center of the storm, where temperatures were as cold as minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 45.5 degrees Celsius). These cloud-top temperatures indicate strong thunderstorms that reach high into the atmosphere and have the potential to generate heavy rainfall, according to a statement from NASA

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Marco weakened into a post-tropical cyclone on Aug. 25, 2020. NASA's Terra satellite captured this infrared image that day at 12:30 a.m. EDT (0430 GMT).

Marco weakened into a post-tropical cyclone on Aug. 25, 2020. NASA's Terra satellite captured this infrared image that day at 12:30 a.m. EDT (0430 GMT). (Image credit: NASA/NRL)
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The MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured infrared views of Tropical Storm Marco as it moved toward the coast of Louisiana on Aug. 24, 2020.

The MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured infrared views of Tropical Storm Marco as it moved toward the coast of Louisiana on Aug. 24, 2020. (Image credit: NASA/NRL)
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The MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured infrared views of Tropical Storm Marco as it moved toward the coast of Louisiana on Aug. 23, 2020.

The MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured infrared views of Tropical Storm Marco as it moved toward the coast of Louisiana on Aug. 23, 2020. (Image credit: NASA/NRL)
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NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy shared an image of Hurricane Laura from the International Space Station on Aug. 25, 2020.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy shared an image of Hurricane Laura from the International Space Station on Aug. 25, 2020. (Image credit: NASA)

"Marco is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 3 to 5 inches (7.62 to 12.7 centimeters) with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches [25 cm] across portions of the northeast and north-central Gulf coast through Tuesday," the National Hurricane Center said in a public advisory. "This rainfall may result in areas of flash, urban and small stream flooding in the area."

The MODIS instrument also captured Tropical Storm Laura, measuring the storm's cloud-top temperatures on Aug. 23 at 11:45 p.m. EDT (Aug. 24 at 0345 GMT). The instrument revealed that the most powerful thunderstorms were located near Laura's center, where temperatures were as cold as minus 80 degrees F (minus 62.2 C). At that time, the storm was just north of Jamaica, which could experience up to 10 inches (25.4 cm) of rainfall, according to a statement from NASA.

Other satellite instruments, including the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NOAA-20 satellite and the NOAA's GOES-East satellite, are also tracking the storms as they continue through the Gulf of Mexico. 

Editor's note: This story was updated at 4:40 p.m. EDT to include photos of Hurricane Laura taken on the space station by NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy. Follow Samantha Mathewson @Sam_Ashley13. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

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