On January 19, 2003, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors on the Aqua and Terra satellites captured a series of images of the fires in southeast Australia and the plume of smoke wafting thousands of kilometers out over the Pacific Ocean. This composite image is made up of four alternating Terra and Aqua images: Terra/Aqua/Terra/Aqua (left to right).
Terra is the morning satellite, so its images were acquired first. Since the satellites collect data from east to west, Terra acquired the third segment of the image, showing South Island of New Zealand first, and then a few hours later, the first segment, showing the coast of Australia. The Aqua images came next, again from east to west, so that the far right segment, showing North Island of New Zealand, came first, and the second segment, showing the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Australia, came last.
Over the ocean, you can see the direction of the sunglint change based on the different orbital geometry: in the Terra image, the sunglint runs northeast-southwest, for Aqua it runs northwest-southeast.
Image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC
- Terra - MODIS