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The Strait of Magellan
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The Strait of Magellan

January 18, 2009
The Strait of Magellan, visible near the bottom of this image, is a passageway between the Tierra del Fuego archipelago and mainland South America. At the far southern tip of South America, the strait threads through a portion of Chile that is surrounded on either side by Argentina. This passage was named for Ferdinand Magellan, the first to circumnavigate the globe.

Although it may seem out of the way to travel so far south to cross the globe, until the Panama Canal was built in 1914, the Strait of Magellan was the only safe way to move between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Because this waterway is sheltered by Tierra del Fuego on one side and mainland Chile on the other, ships were relatively sheltered there. The alternative, the Drake Passage, the narrow stretch of ocean between South America and Antarctica, was much more dangerous.

This image was captured by the MODIS on the Aqua satellite on December 9, 2008.


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