The East Coast is preparing itself for Hurricane Irene, as the Category 3 storm is supposed make landfall in the Carolinas by Saturday morning.

It'll be the first hurricane to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Ike barreled through Texas in 2008. A Category 3 hurricane is the highest threshold for a major hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale that measures hurricane intensity.

NASA satellites have been tracking Hurricane Irene's progress since it began as a tropical storm in the Atlantic Ocean over the weekend. The agency's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-13) satellite tracked the storm as it became a hurricane. The eye of the hurricane can be seen from space.

Here's the GOES-13 animation of the hurricane. The animation includes sped up infrared and visible frames of data from the GOES-13 satellite and is squeezed down to 36 seconds.

Credit: NASA

NASA also  received an awesome image of the hurricane from space, as taken from an astronaut on the International Space Station. Here's NASA's video.

Credit: NASA

The National Hurricane Center has also been tracking Irene. The hurricane center expects Irene's tropical storm-force winds will extend out to 205 miles from its center, making Irene about 410 miles in diameter. By comparison, Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged New Orleans in 2005, had tropical storm-force winds that extended 190 miles from its center and was 440 miles in diameter.

Here's a look at Hurricane Irene from space and some satellite images.