In August 2011, the powerful and huge hurricane Irene achieved landfall over the east coast of the US. It had been a category 3 storm but had subsided somewhat before reaching land, but it still did damage over a vast area. Images from NASA satellites like this one can help us better understand hurricanes. While we can't manipulate or stop them, the more we know about them, the more we can predict where they will hit and where to concentrate evacuation efforts if necessary. Space-based observations of our planet are absolutely critical for our own well-being... and they can also be beautiful.
[Note: You should also check out this video of Irene
showing its progress from start to finish as seeen from space.]Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team