A new perspective
Spouting fire and noxious gases, volcanoes have alternatively inspired and frightened people since the dawn of time. There’s the epic Santorini eruption of Greece in 1650 B.C. that killed millions and is thought to have wiped the Minoan civilization off the planet. Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., famously burying the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 75 feet of ash. In 1883, as much as two thirds of the island of Krakatau in Indonesia was blasted 75,000 feet into the atmosphere when a volcano erupted.
Now, thanks to the various Earth-observing satellites of NASA, we can see epic eruptions as never before. Pictured here is the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland on April 17, 2010. According to NASA, this false-color image shows "a strong thermal source (denoted in red) visible at the base of the Eyjafjallajökull plume." It was taken by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) instrument aboard NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) spacecraft. Here are some oddly beautiful images of volcanoes as seen from space.
This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publication in April 2012.