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This photograph, acquired in February 1984 by an astronaut aboard the space shuttle, shows a series of mature thunderstorms located near the Paraná River in southern Brazil. With abundant warm temperatures and moisture-laden air in this part of Brazil, large thunderstorms are commonplace. A NASA-funded researcher has discovered that tiny airborne particles of pollution may modify developing thunderclouds by increasing the quantity and reducing the size of the ice crystals within them. These modifications may affect the clouds’ impact on the Earth’s “radiation budget,” or the amount of radiation that enters and leaves our planet.
Image STS41B-41-2347 was provided by the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory at Johnson Space Center. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA-JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth
Published May 15, 2002