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Texas wildfires as seen from space [Video]

September 8, 2011 | 12:37 pm

NASA has captured video and still images of the Texas wildfires from space.

The images were relayed back to earth by a satellite and astronauts on the International Space Station, including a Texas native.

Astronaut Mike Fossum, who was raised in McAllen, Texas, and graduated from both Texas A&M University and the University of Houston-Clear Lake, posted one of the images by request via Twitter.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected,” Fossum tweeted from the space station.

Fossum had asked Mission Control to update him about the fires, which have raged over thousands of acres in Central Texas since Sunday.

"Did you guys confirm that the state park Bastrop is one of the directly affected areas with the fire in that region?" Fossum asked from space on Tuesday.

"Yes Mike, unfortunately that's true," Jay Marschke replied from Houston. "The news agencies are reporting up to two-thirds of the park has been burned and hundreds of homes in the area have been destroyed."

"Wow, that's rough news,” Fossum said. “We're really thinking about all those folks through there."

Nicole Cloutier, a spokeswoman for flight crew operations at Johnson Space Center in Houston, said Fossum knew the Bastrop area well because of trips he's taken to the area as a Boy Scout leader and his years at nearby A&M.

"He has done tons of backpacking and hiking throughout the state and Bastrop is one of the most popular parks," she said. "It's just a very special place close to his heart. I think this is just affecting him personally."

On Thursday, as the space station flew directly over Bastrop, she said Fossum was in a module, looking down.

"He could see the burn in the land," Cloutier said. "It's nearly impossible to see something like that and not be affected by it. Almost all the astronauts, we hear them say after their flights that once you see the Earth from space, you realize the fragility of the planet."

Fossum’s crewmate Ron Garan, also tweeted about the fires.

"Prayers for those in harm's way," Garan tweeted Tuesday. Garan also posted a series of photos of the fires.

Smoke from some of the fires is also visible in an image captured Tuesday by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite.

Several plumes of smoke are visible in the lower center and left. The rounded mass of clouds on the right are the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.

The largest plume in the lower center part of the image is from the Bear Creek fire that started Sunday and was raging over 14,000 acres in East Texas.


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Video: Smoke plumes and haze from wildfires are seen across Texas on Wednesday from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/YouTube.