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Holiday calendar: Mount Etna makes its mark on Sicily


Twin volcanic plumes – one ash, one gas – stream from Sicily's Mount Etna. This image was acquired on Oct. 26 by the Proba-V minisatellite.

Twin plumes of ash and gas from Mount Etna stream across Sicily in an image from the European Space Agency's Proba-V minisatellite. The Northeast Crater, one of several on the volcano's summit, is emitting the ash column, while the New Southwest Crater is simultaneous venting mostly gas. Etna is considered Europe's most active volcano, and it acted up again just last week.

The Proba-V satellite, launched in May, maps the entire Earth every two days. The spacecraft is only about as big as an office refrigerator, but it's outfitted with enough electronics to monitor crop production and weather continuously from an altitude of 500 miles. This picture is part of ESA's most recent "Week in Images" roundup — and it's the latest offering from our Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which presents a fresh view of Earth from space every day through Christmas. For more holiday goodies from space, check out The Atlantic's Hubble Advent CalendarZooniverse's Advent calendar and the Galileo's Pendulum Science Advent Calendar.

Previously on the Space Advent Calendar:

Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the NBC News Science Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with NBCNews.com's stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.