June 28, 2013 - The Azores

The Azores

On June 17, 2013 the Aqua satellite flew over the North Atlantic Ocean and looked down upon a set of jewel-like islands shimmering in the blue ocean. These green gems lie about 1,500 km (903 mi) west of Portugal and 1,900 km (1,200 mi southeast) of Newfoundland, and are known as the Azores.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying aboard captured this true-color image of all nine islands that comprise the archipelago of the Azores at 15:05 UTC (11:05 a.m. EDT). The large island in the west is named Flores, with tiny Corvo nearly due north. The central group contains, from west to east, Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Graciosa, and Terciera. The long island of São Miguel lies in clear ocean in the east, while Santa Marie is nearly completely hidden by clouds.

Clouds trail in sinuous lines to the southwest of the central and eastern groups of islands. These formations are caused by turbulence as air flows around the islands, and are commonly seen off the Azores.

The ocean appears silvery in the west of the image, but in fact the ocean color has not changed. The mirror-like appearance is due to sunglint, which occurs when sunlight is reflected off the ocean surface directly back at the satellite imager. The parallel lines visible in the sunglint are artifact, and are not actual lines or waves in the water.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 6/17/2013
Resolutions: 1km (53.7 KB), 500m (228.6 KB), 250m (589.7 KB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC