51C-39-077 (100 mm)
Flight 51 C; 22.2N, 60E, 26 Jan 1985
Considering that suloys mark boundaries in the upper ocean along which there are either strong or weak current shears, then the first places to look for them from space are locations where such shears are known to exist. One such place is off the Saudi Arabian headland, Ras al Hadd, at the entrance to the Gulf of Oman. Plumes of cold water have been studied there, from satellites and ships, since 1980, but good observations from the space shuttle were unavailable until Flight 51C, in January 1985.
At the time of the observation from the Discovery, ships of the U.S. Fleet were cruising the waters off the headland, providing information on the current shear between the plume and the sea in the opening to the Gulf of Oman. Useful measurements at sea indicated differential current speeds of up to eight kilometers an hour between the plume and the spiral eddy field. An obvious boundary was observed and photographed from the shuttle, the details of which are best noted in the 250-mm photograph taken just seconds after the one using a 100-mm lens. From the ships, information seemed to confirm lines of "chaotic waves," as described by Maury, or suloys, as they are known today.
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