Flight 61B; 15S, 147.5W, 20:19:56 GMT, 28 Nov 1985
Rangiroa, the largest of all complete atolls in the Tuamotu Archipelago, lies at the northwest end of that chain of islands. Its irregular, elongated shape shows the kind of configuration that convinced Darwin that fortuitous platforms alone were too simple an answer for the distribution of atolls in the Pacific Basin. The deep lagoon of Rangiroa precludes the growth of large coral knolls that choke the lagoons of the Marshall and Cook islands. Small lagoonal "wash-over" beaches indicate that Rangiroa is located away from the usual hurricane tracks. There were plenty of puffball cumulus clouds when the Atlantis orbited over the atoll.
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