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Easter Island seen from space

Easter Island seen from space
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Easter Island seen by Germany's Earth observation satellite TerraSAR-X.

Some 3600 kilometres from the Chilean mainland and over 4000 kilometres from Tahiti, Easter Island, which spans an area of 160 square kilometres, is probably the most isolated island in the world.

The island was formed when lava flows from three volcanoes joined to form a landmass between them. The different colours in the TerraSAR-X image are due to the unevenness of the surface. Artificial structures such as buildings, settlements or urban infrastructure, which are shown in yellow, contrast clearly with the island’s natural formations such as lava fields or vegetation, which appear blue or green in the image. In the centre of the island are fields used for agriculture, which attract attention due to their angular structure.

Some parts of the image are black. The 'culprit' is NASA – in 1984 they extended the runway of Mataveri airport, which now stretches almost four kilometres from one coast to the other in the southwest of the island, for use as an emergency landing site for the Space Shuttle. The concrete area reflects radar beams away from the satellite and shows up as a black line in the image.

Credit: DLR.