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Spacecraft nadir point: 51.2° S, 70.9° E

Photo center point: 49.5° S, 70.0° E

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Nadir to Photo Center: Northwest

Spacecraft Altitude: 230 nautical miles (426km)
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Image Caption: 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-Francis is a small settlement that hosts seasonal researchers for studies of local and migratory animals, oceanography, and Earth science.

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