Tierra del Fuego

April 08, 2003


Provided by: Earth Observatory, NASA GSFC
Summary authors & editors: Earth Observatory; Jim Foster

The Tierra del Fuego, a group of islands at the southern tip of South America, is infamous for its poor weather. These rugged islands protrude into the circumpolar ocean current that surrounds Antarctica and are continuously battered by high winds and blanketed by clouds. On March 28, 2003 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument, aboard NASA’s Terra satellite, captured this rare, clear view of the Tierra del Fuego islands and the Patagonia region of Argentina. Even on this image, Cape Horn, the southernmost point of South America, is concealed by clouds. Note the snow-capped peaks of the southern Andes Mountains -- it's early fall now in the Southern Hemisphere.

Magellan sailed between the Tierra del Fuego and the mainland of South America in 1520 during his expedition around the world. He named the region the Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) when he saw fires along the southern shore of what is now known as the Strait of Magellan. The western part of Tierra del Fuego belongs to Chile, and the eastern part is in Argentina.

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