[Skip to content]
ISS053-E-131276
Browse image
Resolutions offered for this image:
4928 x 3280 pixels 720 x 480 pixels 4928 x 3280 pixels 640 x 426 pixels

MAP LOCATION
latitude/longitude of image
Spacecraft nadir point: 35.4° N, 9.9° E

Photo center point: 26.8° N, 6.8° E

Nadir to Photo Center: South

Spacecraft Altitude: 216 nautical miles (400km)
Click for Google map
IMAGE DETAILS
features and other details
CAMERA INFORMATION
information about camera used
ALL DOWNLOAD OPTIONS
additional formats
Width Height Annotated Cropped Purpose Links
4928 pixels 3280 pixels Yes No NASA's Earth Observatory web site Download Image
720 pixels 480 pixels Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site Download Image
4928 pixels 3280 pixels No No Download Image
640 pixels 426 pixels No No Download Image
Other options available:
Download Packaged File
Download a Google Earth KML for this Image
View photo footprint information
Image Caption: A Plateau of Chasms

While flying aboard the International Space Station, an astronaut took this photograph of the northwest corner of Tassili n’Ajjer National Park in Algeria. The darker sandstone plateau, Tassili n’Ajjer, curves around part of the Tifernine Dunes—a vast dune field of the Sahara Desert. The plateau stands a few hundred feet above the dunes below.

Tassili n’Ajjer translates to “plateau of chasms,” a name that describes the deep fissures and canyons long ago cut into the rock by flowing water. The dune field below took shape after an ancient lake dried up. Tassili n’Ajjer is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with more than 15,000 prehistoric etchings and illustrations on the cave walls; these record a human presence as far back as 6000 BCE.

Geologists generally classify dunes into five basic types, and all but one (domes) are found in the Tifernine Dune Field. (Click hereto view a high-resolution photograph of the dunes.) The shape of a dune is an indication of regional wind patterns. In the case of Tassili nÂ’Ajjer, the ridges on either side of the dune field block most of the sand particles from traveling over the plateau. This causes sand to pile up over time such that the dunes are sitting at a much higher elevation in the alcove than elsewhere in the dune field.