An island measuring 135 sq km, less than Washington DC, was found by NASA and the news came as the US space agency’s gift to the mankind but the island, belonging to Australia, is in the southern Indian Ocean, somewhere near the spot where the missing Malaysian aircraft MH370 is reported to have crashed.
It is a coral atoll, a ring-shaped reef, island or chain of islands made up of coral, in the northern Line Islands belonging to the territory of Australia. The island was discovered by NASA satellite Aqua that flew over Christmas Island on Nov 11, 2014, and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MRIS) took a visible picture of the small atoll.
The island has a tropical equatorial climate with a wet season that runs from December to April. During the island’s dry season, heat and humidity are moderated by trade winds, located 2,600 km north-west of Perth, western Australia.
The island is famous for land-dwelling red crabs, which scramble to the sea each November to release eggs. When Aqua flew over Kiritimati, also known as Christmas Island, its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer took a visible picture of the small atoll, located about 141 miles (232 km) north of the Equator and 4,160 miles (6,700 km) from Sydney, Australia.
The island is only 150 square miles (388 square km) in area, smaller than the city of San Francisco, California (which is 231.9 square miles/600.6 square kilometers). In the Kiribati language, the name “Kiritimati” is how they a spell the English word “Christmas.”