As East Coast Braces For Hurricane Earl, NASA Watches From Above

Hurricane Earl

A view of Hurricane Earl's eye, taken from the International Space Station. At the time Earl was centered just north of the Virgin Islands.NASA

East Coast residents are bracing for this monster, headed their way with 125-mph winds, as a fleet of NASA satellites and airplanes monitors its evolution.

As of Wednesday morning, Hurricane Earl was a Category 3 storm, but an especially large one. Storm-force winds extend 200 miles from its eye, seen above in a photo snapped from the International Space Station.

NASA scientists are flying airplanes into this swirling mass, measuring the hurricane's wind speeds, precipitation and more. As part of NASA's GRIP program — Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes — a NASA DC-8 flew through Earl's eye six times as the hurricane intensified from a Category 2 to a Category 4 storm.

Meanwhile, an ISS crew member used a digital camera with a 50mm lens to take the above photo, from a much safer distance.