THE BEST PICTURES OF EARTH: Reader Picks of NASA Shots

THE BEST PICTURES OF EARTH: Reader Picks of NASA Shots
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3. Atafu Atoll, Tokelau, Southern Pacific Ocean (April 6, 2009)

A tiny atoll, part of a New Zealand territory, is seen as photographed from the International Space Station by an astronaut.

The Atafu Atoll is one of four atolls and islands that are part of the Tokelau Islands. Geology suggests that a volcanic island created the atoll. Coral reefs likely formed around the volcano, which then eroded beneath the water, leaving a ring of sand and reefs.

Atafu's main village can be seen to the left as a collection of small grey dots. Around 500 people responded to a 2006 census of the atoll.

(Read more about Tokelau, one of Earth's last colonies.)
— Photograph by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC, courtesy Earth Observatory
 
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