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Surface rupture from Ridgecrest, California earthquake spotted from space

By Mike Wall
July 09, 2019, 12:55:50 PM EDT

One of last week's powerful Southern California earthquakes created a crack in the planet's crust that's visible from space.

Photos snapped on Saturday (July 6) by tiny Earth-observing Dove satellites, which are built and operated by San Francisco-based company Planet, show a new surface rupture near the desert town of Ridgecrest, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles.

A day earlier, the Ridgecrest region had been rocked by a 7.1-magnitude temblor — the most powerful quake to hit Southern California in two decades. And Friday's quake was far from alone; it followed on the heels of a 6.4-magnitude tremor that hit the area Thursday (July 4) and spawned a swarm of less powerful aftershocks.

Before

earthquake 1

A new rupture in Earth's crust caused by a magnitude-7.1 earthquake near Ridgecrest, California, is seen in these before-and-after views, captured on July 4 and July 6, 2019, by Dove cubesats operated by San Francisco-based company Planet. (Image credit: Planet Labs Inc.)


After

earthquake after

A new rupture in Earth's crust caused by a magnitude-7.1 earthquake near Ridgecrest, California, is seen in this July 6, 2019, image by a Dove cubesat, operated by San Francisco-based company Planet. (Image: © Planet Labs Inc.)


The quakes damaged some buildings near the epicenter but apparently caused no serious injuries, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Planet's Dove cubesats are tiny but extremely capable: Their bodies are smaller than a loaf of bread, but the craft can capture photos with a resolution of 10 feet to 16.5 feet (3 to 5 meters). Planet (previously known as Planet Labs) currently has more than 100 operational Doves in low-Earth orbit, whose imagery the company sells to a variety of customers.

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