Bansi (Southern Indian Ocean)

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Tropical Cyclone Bansi was seen from the International Space Station.
Image Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory/NASA JSC/ISS

The Electric Eye of Cyclone Bansi

Though this image may look like they come from a science fiction movie, it is in fact a photograph of tropical cyclone Bansi as seen at night by astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). The image was taken when the ISS was east of Madagascar.

Bansi formed in the southwestern Indian Ocean on January 11, 2015. By the time the photo was taken on the following day, Bansi had achieved tropical cyclone strength, with sustained maximum winds over 185 kilometers (115 miles) per hour. The cyclone would reach category 4 strength before becoming a weak extra-tropical system on January 19.

The dim swirl of the cloud bands covers the ocean surface in this night image. The eye of the cyclone is brilliantly lit by lightning in or near the eye wall. The low-light settings of the camera used to take the image accentuate the contrast. The camera also accentuates the yellow-green airglow above the Earth’s limb, an atmospheric phenomenon frequently seen by astronauts. Stars appear above the airglow layer, and the solar panels of a docked Russian spacecraft jut into the image (upper left).

Astronaut photographs ISS042-E-135015 and ISS042-E-135030 were acquired on January 12, 2015, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 28 millimeter lens, and are provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 42 crew.They have been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC.


On Jan. 19, NASA’s Aqua satellite spotted sediment stirred up by Tropical Cyclone Bansi around the Cargados Carajos Shoals, Indian Ocean.
Image Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

Jan. 20, 2015 – The Once-Powerful Tropical Cyclone Bansi Stirred Up Ocean Sediment

Tropical Cyclone Bansi reached a Category 4 status on the Saffir-Simpson Scale on January 15 and 16 as it moved through the Southern Indian Ocean. By January 19 as the storm was weakening over open ocean, NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a picture of sediment stirred up from the storm around the Cargados Carajos Shoals.

On Jan. 15 at 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST), Tropical Cyclone Bansi as a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with maximum sustained winds near 130 knots (149.6 mph/240.8 kph). At that time Bansi was centered about 451 nautical miles (519 miles/835 km) east of Port Louis, Mauritius.

On January 18 at 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST) the time of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s last bulletin on the system, Bansi’s maximum sustained winds had dropped to 65 knots (74 mph/120.4 kph) and it was located 1,425 nautical miles (1,640 miles/2,639 km) southwest of Cocos Island. Later in the day, Bansi started extra-tropical transitioning and by January 19, it was a weaker extra-tropical cyclone moving over open waters of the Southern Indian Ocean.

On January 19 at 10:15 UTC (5:15 a.m. EST) when NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over the Cargados Carajos Shoals, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument aboard captured a visible image of the results of Bansi’s powerful winds. The image showed sediment stirred up from the ocean bottom around the Shoals had colored the ocean waters around them.

According to, Cargados Carajos Shoals is also known as Saint Brandon and consists of more than 50 islands, coral ridges and vast sand flats on an extended reef. It is located in the Southern Indian Ocean about 268 nautical miles (308 miles/496 km north east of Mauritius.

Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

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