The Earth at Night: Mexico's Popocatépetl Volcano as It Erupts

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NASA's Terra satellite captured this image of Popocatépetl, one of the most active volcanoes in Mexico, as it erupted during the night of April 25, 2012, about an hour before midnight local time. Located about 40 miles southeast of Mexico City, Popocatépetl has been erupting since January 2005, and activity has picked up in the past two weeks. The image captures thermal infrared data, showing the variations in heat emanating from different parts of the volcano. Brighter shades indicate greater heat; the crater at the volcano's center is a bright white dot. The darker upper reaches are cooler than the surrounding areas, as was the plume as it blew to the south.

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Image: NASA.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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