Sunday, April 18, 2010

Image of the week : Easter Island, the most isolated island in the world

Seen from space, Easter Island (Rapa Nui) looks anything but egg-shaped (GeoGarage location)
The German Earth observation satellite TerraSAR-X flew over this small and remote volcanic island, acquiring snapshots that show that man-made structures can be seen easily even from space. This image shows the principle town of Hanga Roa, on the northwestern coast (in yellow), and the airport, in the western part of the island (black line).

The island is has an area of just 160 square kilometres and owes its name to the Christian festival of Easter. The Dutchman Jakob Roggeveen landed on its shore on Easter Sunday, 5 April 1722, and chose the rather unimaginative name.
Located about 3600 kilometres from the mainland of Chile and more then 4000 kilometres from Tahiti, Easter Island can justifiably be described as the most isolated island in the world. The nearest neighbours – about 50 descendants of the mutineers on the British naval vessel HMS Bounty – live 2000 kilometres away on the small island of Pitcairn.

James Cook, who stopped at Easter Island in 1774 during his second expedition to the South Seas, was less than delighted with the island.
He wrote in his journal: "No Nation will ever contend for the honour of the discovery of Easter Island as there is hardly an island in this sea offering less refreshments, and conveniences for Shipping than it does."
This is no surprise: the island was formed when lava flows from three volcanoes joined to form a landmass between them.

More on : DLR (Germany's national research center for aeronautics and space)

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