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Waving at the Kerguelen Islands

Waving at the Kerguelen Islands

While orbiting over the vast emptiness of the southern Indian Ocean, an astronaut took this photo of the Kerguelen Islands. Westerly winds pushed low-lying clouds up against the western shores. Meanwhile, ship wave clouds ripple away from small yet tall outlying islands. Sunglint reflecting off of the water surface highlights some waves moving toward the southern coastline (bottom left).

Deeply cut valleys and fjords radiate out from the Cook Ice Cap. These scours are the signatures of glaciers that have eroded large masses of rock and shaped the rugged landscape. Many smaller glaciers connected to the Cook Ice Cap feed into lakes or run out to sea.

The Kerguelen Islands are isolated from continents and human populations, being much closer to Antarctica than to Africa and Australia. However, geographic isolation does not mean the islands are unoccupied. Port-aux-Français is a small settlement that hosts seasonal researchers for studies of local and migratory animals, oceanography, and Earth science.

Astronaut photograph ISS061-E-120687 was acquired on January 7, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 78 millimeter lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 61 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Andrea Meado, Jacobs Technology, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.