Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the North Island of New Zealand. The photo was captured as the International Space Station (ISS) approached the southernmost extent of its prograde 51.6 degree orbit.
From this vantage point – and with the perfect weather conditions – astronauts can get a clear view of the North Island of New Zealand, according to ESA.
“Looking towards the northwest, the astronaut photographer captured the mottled-green island that separates the Tasman Sea from the South Pacific Ocean. On the other side of Cook Strait, South Island peeks out from beneath the cloud cover,” reports ESA.
“Seven bays surround the North Island and define its distinctive shape. The inland landscape includes grasslands (lighter green areas), forests (darker green areas), volcanic plateaus, and mountain ranges formed from sedimentary rocks.”
Lake Taupō, located in the center of the North Island, is a crater lake inside a caldera formed by a supervolcanic eruption. The lake borders the active volcano Mount Ruapehu, which has the highest peak in New Zealand.
“The volcanic nature of the island arises from its location on the tectonic plate boundary between the Indo-Australian and Pacific Plates,” says ESA. “This plate boundary is part of the vast Pacific Ring of Fire, and leads to significant geothermal activity and earthquakes in the region. Additional volcanoes, including Egmont Volcano (Mount Taranaki), also dot the North Island landscape.”
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory