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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
Robert Roy Britt

Robert is an independent health and science journalist and writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a former editor-in-chief of Live Science with over 20 years of experience as a reporter and editor. He has worked on websites such as Space.com and Tom's Guide, and is a contributor on Medium (opens in new tab), covering how we age and how to optimize the mind and body through time. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California.