On December 7, 2013 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer flew over the southwest Pacific Ocean and captured a true-color image of New Caledonia as it peaked through the clouds.
This group of islands was settled by both Britain and France in the early 19th century, and became a French possession in 1853. According to the 1998 Noumes Accord, the governing responsibility will shift from France to New Caledonia over 15 – 20 years, with a referendum between 2014 and 2018 to decide if New Caledonia should assume full sovereignty and independence.
The long, cloud-topped island in this image is Grande Terre, a roughly 450 km (217 mi) long island with a spine of tall mountains, five of which have peaks greater than 1500 m (4,900 ft). New Caledonia also includes the 40 km long archipelago of Belep, seen at the extreme northeast corner of the image, and the Ile de Pins in the southeast. The Loyalty Islands lie to the east from north to south they are named Ouvéa, Lifou, and Maré.