The image to the right was captured at midday on July 19, 2013, by NASA’s Terra satellite as it passed over Franz Josef Land.
Located just 560 to 690 miles from the North Pole, the archipelago’s climate is far too harsh to support a human population.
But researchers and military personnel have lived there in outposts during brief periods of time since Russia annexed the islands in 1926.
Wildlife such as polar bears, walrus, seals, whales and various seabirds do make Franz Josef Land their home, at least during some periods of the year.
The archipelago is made up of six main islands and 135 small islands with a total landmass of about 6,330 square miles.
The islands are totally blanketed by ice in the winter, with only 5 percent of the landmass sustaining vegetation during midsummer.
But climate change is causing the glaciers there to retreat. Many of the islands can be seen in this image to be at least partially free of snow and ice.
While the volcanic islands have been owned by Russia since the USSR claimed them nearly 100 years ago, they were probably first discovered by Norwegian sealers in 1865.
They were officially discovered in 1873 by the Austro-Hungarian North Pole Expedition, which named them in honor of the Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph I.
Most of the individual island names still honor other royalty, European aristocrats and noblemen who had helped finance the expedition.
In 2009 Russia designated Franz Josef Land, along with other far northern areas, as the Russian Arctic National Park.