Astronaut captures the moment ‘Sunglint’ turns the surface of the sea into a silver mirror off the Greek islands

The Sun’s lens has turned the water off the Greek islands into a silver mirror, which is based on an image taken by an astronaut at the International Space Stations (ISS).

The image reportedly shows sunlight reflected from the waters surrounding Greece with oceanographic effects visible only when a person views from outer space.

The Silver Mirror of the Greek Islands

(Photo: NASA/Terry Virts via Wikimedia Commons)

An unidentified member of the ISS Expedition 67 crew took the photo on June 25 using a digital-only camera pointed from the window of the International Space Station, according to Live Science.

The sunglint site is located between the Greek volcanic island of Milos and the Greek double island of Antimilos.

The so-called Silver Sea due to the phenomenon of discoloration includes the Myrtoan Sea located in the northwest of Milos and the Crete Sea in the southwest, both of which are part of the greater Mediterranean.

Read also: Natural sunlight can increase the toxicity of oil spills to wildlife

What is Sunglint?

Sunglint is an optical phenomenon that occurs when sunlight reflects off the surface of the water at the same angle relative to the satellite sensor it is viewing.

This event results in a mirror-like reflection of the sun’s rays away from the water, and back to the satellite or astronaut, according to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

NASA added that one can frequently notice this phenomenon when looking at satellite images or astronaut photography, which contain bright spots of light.

These sunlight particles can optically transform some glowing bodies of water in an unusual, silver-mirror-like color.

water phenomenon

Related incidents have occurred in the past in multiple locations, including waters around Cape Cod and the Lesser Antilles, as well as in the rivers of Brazil.

The US space agency also reported the occurrence of the phenomenon of water off the island of Crete and the Aegean Islands before.

Aside from sunlight itself, there are many factors that support the emergence of this phenomenon, including wind patterns and weather conditions.

Environmental Effects

Sunglint appears to have no ecological impact on marine species and their habitats.

Instead, it only highlights the physical features of the water and the atmosphere above it from the point of view of the astronaut or the satellite capturing it.

Other reported environmental impacts of the phenomenon lie in the aspect of supporting scientific opportunities.

Specifically, it helps detect oil at the surface of the water, whether it’s in the form of natural oil spills or man-made oil spills, NASA reports.

Deepwater Horizon Disaster

In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported in May of that year that NASA’s Aqua satellite observed sunlight on an oil slick in the Gulf.

That’s according to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which said a NOAA update on May 18 showed that the bulk of the oil spill was located within dozens of miles of the Loop Current, as reported in Phys.org.

The spill was captured by satellite imagery on May 17, producing visual data that allegedly helped maritime authorities contain the worst human-caused oil spill in recorded history.

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