This Week’s “Where In The World (and What World) Is This?”

by Nancy Atkinson on April 23, 2008

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Everyone seemed to enjoy the “Where In The World (and What World) Is This?” post last week, so here’s another one for you. This interesting feature was taken by an orbiting spacecraft on May 31, 2006. This striking circular landform could possibly be an impact crater, or a volcanic rim, or another physical feature that is so large, it can only be seen as a whole from the lofty vantage point that a spacecraft in orbit provides. Is this feature on Earth, or is it located on one of the other 176 worlds in our solar system (that’s 7 other planets and 169 known moons)? And what spacecraft is responsible for this image?

Since it’s so close to Earth Day, I had to choose an image from Earth. But what in the world is this a picture of? This is Nukuoro Atoll, a circular island of coral that completely encircles a lagoon. Nukuoro Atoll is part of the Caroline Islands, which stretch northeast of Papua New Guinea in the western Pacific. It is one of 607 islands that make up the Federated States of Micronesia. It is located just north of the equator (3.85° North, 154.9° East). This image reinforces that we live on a wonderfully diverse and endlessly fascinating planet.

Nukuoro Atoll is almost a little world by itself. About 900 people live on Nukuoro, but is very remote. It has no airstrip, and a passenger boat comes to visit irregularly only once a month. The tiny population speaks its own unique language.

The lagoon is 6 kilometers (about 3.7 miles) in diameter. Fishing, animal husbandry, and agriculture are the main occupations. The atoll is mostly sandy, but the dark areas are green vegetation.

In the close-up image, structures are visible. The white dots found in the lagoon are coral heads. The most prominent one is almost directly in the middle of the lagoon.

The picture was taken by astronauts on board the International Space Station as part of the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment. They used a Kodak 760C digital camera with an 800 mm lens.

Original News Source: Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

LLDIAZ April 23, 2008 at 12:07 PM

just one rogue wave and splat no more

remudin April 23, 2008 at 7:50 AM

thanks

remudin April 23, 2008 at 7:52 AM

thanks!!

Rachel April 23, 2008 at 8:04 AM

Neat! I knew it had to be an atoll but for there to be a sustainable culture there! Whoa.
Seeing this really makes me want to see a ISS (or satelite) photo of the Nahru(sp?) islands.
Thanks!

MandyDax April 23, 2008 at 2:22 PM

With the coral head in the middle as the white dwarf remnant, it looks like a planetary nebula with the colors all messed up. :) Beautiful!

Jason Leary April 23, 2008 at 4:19 PM

Beautiful place !

PHWilson April 24, 2008 at 4:08 AM

Thanks for a beautifully shot and fascinating photo. Is it remaining unspoiled?

Don Monroe April 24, 2008 at 7:09 AM

Very cool. Fortunately, I guessed from the picture on my RSS feed, because the google ads on the regular page gave it away by giving links to Fiji!

Alan LIpkin April 24, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Very good, but pretty easy. Keep ‘em coming! I’d suggest the Rachat Structure in the African desert. Hehehe.

Hanchai Sawangned April 26, 2008 at 3:34 AM

It’s look like brain, googolplex the world.

A.J December 8, 2008 at 4:49 PM

wow, it’s a beautiful shot u got there, but its more astonishing and relaxing when you step on the beautiful island of NUKUORO ATOLL also call MADALAMA.It has 42 small islands that connected to each other by reef, which you can walk from island to island. Each island covered with beaches.

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