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Greece and the Aegean: Earth Image of the Week October 12, 2012
Greece and its islands seen from space.
Aegean surface water circulates in a counter-clockwise gyre, with highly salty Mediterranean water moving northward along the west coast of Turkey, before being displaced by less dense Black Sea outflow.
One of Western civilization’s most historic landscapes was clearly visible from space on September 29, 2012.

Greece and its islands of the Aegean stood out against the blue Mediterranean when NASA’s Aqua satellite passed overhead at 1:30 p.m. local time that Saturday afternoon.

(A small amount of cloud cover, smoke and the sun's reflection on the water was removed from the image to provide greater contrast.)

Adventures both fabled and historic abound in literature from the region, which has detailed some of recorded history’s earliest lore.

Many of the stories come from the waters and islands of the Aegean Sea, which was traditionally known as Archipelago before English language usage changed the name to refer to any island group.

The current coastline of the Greek islands and mainland have remained nearly the same back to about 4000 B.C.

During the past ice age, around 18,000 years ago, sea levels were over 400 feet lower than today, creating large coastal plains that are now submerged beneath the northern Aegean waters.

In ancient times, two great civilizations emerged in the region — the Minoans of Crete and the Mycenean civilization of the Peloponnese. Plato later described the Greeks living around the Aegean as “like frogs around a pond.”

But the maritime environment and its relative ease of access to remote lands gave ancient mariners far safer routes for trade than across the rough terrains of what are now known as Greece and Turkey.

Image: NASA MODIS Rapid Response System.