Mar Del Fuego | Daily Planet | Air & Space Magazine
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Mar Del Fuego

The bright lights of oil platforms appear as sparkling constellations off the coast of South America.

airspacemag.com

Tierra del Fuego, the land of fire, was what Magellan named the tip of South America in 1520. He had seen the fires set by local inhabitants who did not want the Portuguese explorer to set foot on their land.

A new page in the history of this distant part of our globe is now being written. Oil has been discovered off the eastern shore of Tierra del Fuego, and Argentina is building offshore platforms to access it. Brightly lit, they appear from orbit as constellations—not in the starry sky, but on the surface of the sea. Collectively, they are one of the most brightly-lit areas I have seen anywhere on Earth (except for Las Vegas, which still holds the title). From my orbital perspective, this is no longer Tierra del Fuego but Mar del Fuego.

In these pictures taken from Space Station, the dim lights from Tierra del Fuego, visible in the background in the first image below, do not hold a candle to the bright lights of the offshore oil platforms. Click on the images to see them larger.

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About Don Pettit
Don Pettit

NASA astronaut Don Pettit is an engineer by schooling, a scientist by profession, and an explorer by heart. He trains to fly in space and on occasion, finds himself in orbit. Don blogged for Air & Space during his stay on the International Space Station in 2011-2012.

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