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Chatham Islands seen by Aqua satellite

Phytoplankton around the Chatham Islands

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Launched in May 2002, the Aqua satellite, which as its name suggests, is designed to study the water cycle on Earth.
Aqua observe the oceans, atmosphere, land, stretches of ice and snow and vegetation of our earth, allowing scientists to study the interactions between key components of the Earth system. NASA is studying the ecosystems through this satellite.
From the same family as the Terra satellite, launched in December 1999, Aqua has a lifetime fixed at six years. Equipped with 6 sensors, Aqua is collecting data on precipitation, evaporation, ice and snow cover, moisture in the atmosphere and land surface, the radiative energy flow, temperature and color oceans, or in a more general data on the water cycle.
The temperature and the color of the water are observed from radiometer MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer), which measures reflectance in 36 spectral bands from 0.4 to 14 m.


On 15 November 2008, MODIS captured this image of a phytoplankton bloom around the Chatham Islands.
Like plants, these organisms contain chlorophyll and other pigments recovery of photosynthesis.
The pigments are changing the way the ocean surface absorbs and reflects sunlight, creating swirls of colors trace the location of the bloom.
The Chatham Islands are situated in the southern Pacific Ocean about 800 kilometers east of New Zealand. They are at the eastern end of a band called Chatham Rise; sub-plateau which stretches east from New Zealand.
The depth of water, combined with its geographical location where the warm waters of the north mix with the cold waters of Antarctica south is a field hospital for the phytoplankton.

Image: phytoplankton bloom around the Chatham Islands. Credit: NASA / MODIS


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