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What the Heck Is This?

Bassas da India

If you guessed it's from an episode of "The Hole in the Wall," your experiencing an optical illusion.

While the image might seem to show a hole, it actually shows a lagoon within an atoll surrounded by an ocean, all viewed from space. The photo was taken by astronauts on the International Space Station.

Bassas da India is an uninhabited atoll in the Indian Ocean. It's made of volcanic rock surrounded by coral reefs, all 6 miles (10 kilometers) in diameter.

Sunlight glinting off the water is what creates the very unusual appearance.  Darker patches and streaks are caused by currents in the water.

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Image Credit: NASA

Robert Roy Britt
Rob was a writer and editor at Space.com starting in 1999. He served as managing editor of Live Science at its launch in 2004. He is now Chief Content Officer overseeing media properties for the sites’ parent company, Purch. Prior to joining the company, Rob was an editor at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, and in 1998 he was founder and editor of the science news website ExploreZone. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California.