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Photo-iss005e11189
International Space Station Imagery
Calanscio Sand Sea, Libya
high res (1.2 M) low res (61 K)
ISS005-E-11189 (25 August 2002) --- Calanscio Sand Sea, Libya is featured in this digital image photographed by an Expedition 5 crewmember on the International Space Station (ISS). A plume of black smoke blowing westward is silhouetted against yellow linear dunes in the great sand sea of northeast Libya. Smoke from flares at remote well heads is commonly seen by astronauts flying over the Sahara Desert. NASA scientists studying the Station imagery had the following observations about the image. The plume dispersal pattern visible at the left edge of the image may be due to upper-level winds or gravitational settling of heavier particulates. The regular pattern of linear dunes is generated by two major winds: the dominant north wind (north is towards the top right) determines the orientation of the sand dunes. Gentler easterly winds, as were blowing when this view was taken, make the dunes asymmetric, with a gentle windward (west) slope and an over steeped downwind slope. Some over steepened slopes even cast shadows in the early morning light. One mound of sand (top right), due north of the well head, does not fit the pattern of linear dunes. This type is known as a star dune.

Curator: JSC PAO Web Team | Responsible NASA Official: Amiko Kauderer | Updated: 10/30/2012
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