From NASA Earth: “Mauna Kea Volcano, Hawaii”

NASA Earth Observatory

NASA Earth Observatory

acquired November 1, 2015

Mauna Kea (“White Mountain”) is the only volcano on the island of Hawaii that has evidence of glaciation. This photograph of Mauna Kea was taken by an astronaut as the International Space Station (ISS) passed over at approximately 5 p.m. local time. The late-afternoon lighting and oblique viewing angle accentuates the shadows, highlighting the white domes of the observatories along the crater rims.

The major observatories
Keck Observatory

Canada France Hawaii Telescope

NAOJ Subaru Telescope

The angle also accentuates the numerous cinder cones and lava flows. Astronauts are often deprived of a three-dimensional sense of mountains because the ISS flies so far above Earth’s surface. But the low Sun angle here gives a strong sense of the domed shape of this immense volcano.

Several observatories appear as small white dots on the rim of Mauna Kea. As the highest volcano on the island of Hawaii (summit elevation 4,205 meters or 13,800 feet above sea level), it is an ideal location for the astronomical observatories set up by several countries and academic consortiums.

Although Mauna Kea last erupted in 2460 BCE, the potential for renewed activity is high. Neighboring Mauna Loa volcano has erupted approximately every six years for the past 3,000 years.

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The Earth Observatory’s mission is to share with the public the images, stories, and discoveries about climate and the environment that emerge from NASA research, including its satellite missions, in-the-field research, and climate models. The Earth Observatory staff is supported by the Climate and Radiation Laboratory, and the Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory located at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.