The enchantment of Galapagos Islands from space.
The enchantment of Galapagos Islands from space.

The enchantment of Galapagos Islands as seen from space. An unparalleled spectacle captured from an off-earth lens.

Galapagos Islands from space.

Words: Patricio Añazco / Photo: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

The Sentinels are a fleet of satellites designed specifically to deliver the wealth of data and imagery that are central to the European Commission’s Copernicus programme. 

This unique environmental monitoring programme is making a step change in the way we manage our environment, understand and tackle the effects of climate change and safeguard everyday lives. Sentinel-2 carries an innovative wide swath high-resolution multispectral imager with 13 spectral bands for a new perspective of our land and vegetation.

The combination of high resolution, novel spectral capabilities, a swath width of 290 km and frequent revisit times provides unprecedented views of Earth.

Sentinel-2A was launched on 23 June 2015 and Sentinel-2B followed on 7 March 2017. Once launched, the European Commission assumes ownership of the satellites.

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission and the Galapagos Islands.

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over the Galápagos Islands – a volcanic archipelago situated some 1000 km west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean.

The archipelago consists of 13 major islands and a handful of smaller islands and islets scattered across approximately 60 000 sq km of ocean. Repeated volcanic eruptions and ongoing seismic activity have helped form the rugged mountain landscape of the islands. In this image, captured on 23 September 2020, several circular volcanic cones can be seen atop the islands.

The largest island in the Galapagos.

The largest island of the archipelago, Isabela (Albemarle), is visible in the centre. Around 132 km in length, the island’s seahorse shape is the result of the merging of multiple large volcanoes into a single land mass. The five volcanoes seen on the island are (from north to south): Wolf Volcano, Darwin Volcano, Alcedo Volcano, Sierra Negra Volcano and Cerro Azul Volcano. Two of the island’s volcanoes, Ecuador and Wolf, lie directly on the equator.

At the southern end of the island hills covered with forests can be seen in bright green separating the Sierra Negra. The most active of the Galapagos volcanoes, from the sandy coastline (partially visible here owing to cloud cover). Tortuga Island, named for its distinct shape, can be seen southeast from Isabela. The tiny island is actually a collapsed volcano that is a nesting location for a variety of seabirds.

The second largest island of the archipelago, Santa Cruz can be seen to the right of Isabela. Its capital, Puerto Ayora (not visible), is the most populated urban centre in the islands.

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