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Darkened Skies over the Pacific
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Darkened Skies over the Pacific
06/19/2002

On June 10, 2002 the Moon obscured the central portion of the solar disk in a phenomenon known as an annular solar eclipse. Partial phases of the eclipse were visible throughout much of southeast Asia and North America. Maximum obscuration, in which 99.6 percent of the solar disk was shadowed by the Moon, was situated in the central Pacific Ocean. Since there are no populated islands for over 2000 kilometers from this location, very few people were able to witness near-totality. The effect of the eclipse was captured in imagery of the central Pacific Ocean by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument onboard the Terra satellite.

This pair of images compares a view acquired during the eclipse (top) with a view captured seven days earlier (bottom) that utilizes data from an adjacent orbital path and contains similar cloud forms. The region darkened by the eclipse is visible in the upper image, with the darkest area to the right of center. The region in shadow at the upper edge is situated about 600 kilometers northwest of the center line of the eclipse and captures the event about 11 minutes before its maximum. At this time and location, the Moon is estimated to obscure about 75 percent of the solar disk.

The Terra satellite orbits Earth from pole-to-pole, descending from the northern latitudes on the daylit side. For a pictorial representation of the Terra satellite's polar sun-synchronous orbit, see the MISR orbit animation at Pictorial Introduction. The scenes shown here are long segments of MISR image swaths; they represent an area of about 7180 kilometers x 380 kilometers and are rotated so that north is toward the left and south toward the right. The brownish-colored landmass at the left-hand edge is Russia's Chukotskiy Peninsula, and the right edge ends about 5 degrees north of the equator in the central Pacific.

The two scenes are geolocated to adjacent paths within World Reference System-2. The June 3 and June 10 orbits utilize data from paths 86 and 87, respectively, and were acquired during Terra orbits 13086 and 13188. They utilize data from MISR blocks 36 to 86.

MISR was built and is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, for NASA's Office of Earth Science, Washington, DC. The Terra satellite is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.

Credit: Image credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team.

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