Since 1972, satellites from NASA and the US Geological Survey's joint Landsat program have been observing the Earth from orbit in space. The above picture, taken in 2001, shows the islands of Tahiti in true color, as captured by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus on the Landsat 7 satellite. The islands' topography has been heavily shaped by tropical rains that have carved deep valleys in the volcanoes' sloping sides, some of which appear in shadows above. Coral reefs -- particularly along the southern and western shores -- ring the coastlines.
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