Astronaut Captures Moment ‘Sunglint’ Turns Sea Surface Into a Silver Mirror Off the Greek Islands


A sun yellow has turned the waters off the Greek islands into a silver mirror based on a photo taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS).

The image reportedly shows the sun’s light reflecting off the waters surrounding Greece, with oceanographic effects only visible when viewed from space by a person.

Silver Mirror of the Greek Islands

sun angel

(Photo: Photo by NASA/Terry Virts via Wikimedia Commons)

According to Live Science, an unidentified member of the ISS Expedition 67 crew captured the image on June 25 using only a digital camera pointed out of an ISS window.

The location of Sonnenlint is between the Greek volcanic island of Milos and the paired Greek island of Antimilos.

The so-called Silver Sea due to the color change phenomenon includes the Myrtoan Sea northwest of Milos and the Crete Sea to the southwest, both of which are part of the larger Mediterranean Sea.

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What is a sun gel?

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

This event results in a mirror-like reflection of sunlight off the water back toward the satellite or astronaut, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

One can often notice the phenomenon when looking at satellite imagery or astronaut photos, which contain bright flares, NASA added.

These sunlight particles can visually transform some bodies of water into an unusual color resembling a silvery mirror.

phenomenon of water

Similar incidents have occurred in several places in the past, including in the waters around Cape Cod and the Lesser Antilles, and in the rivers of Brazil.

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The US space agency had previously reported the occurrence of the water phenomenon off Crete and the Aegean Islands.

Aside from sunlight itself, there are several factors that support the phenomenon’s manifestation, including wind patterns and atmospheric conditions.

Impact on the environment

Sun yellow obviously has no ecological effect on marine species and their habitats.

Instead, it only highlights the physical properties of the water and the overlying atmosphere as seen by the astronaut or satellite capturing it.

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

Specifically, it helps detect oil on the water surface, whether it’s natural oil leaks or man-made oil spills, NASA reports.

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Deepwater Horizon disaster

Following 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 solar flare on the Gulf oil slick.

That’s according to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which said the May 18 NOAA update showed the bulk of the oil spill is dozens of miles from the Loop Current, as quoted by Phys.org.

The oil spill was captured by satellite imagery on May 17, providing visual data said to help maritime authorities contain the worst man-made oil spill in recorded history.

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