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STS027-39-44
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Spacecraft nadir point: 39.3° N, 100.3° E

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Spacecraft Altitude: 240 nautical miles (444km)
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Image Caption:
Detail of the Badain Jaran Dunes

The Gobi Desert is characterized by flat plains. Great areas are
underlain by glacial dust (loess) blown in from glaciated parts
of Asia in the recent geological past (the last 1-2 million
years). Smaller areas are covered by coarser material (sand),
and although sand is moved shorter distances, it is nevertheless
heaped up by sand-moving winds into organized lines of dunes, as
seen in this near-vertical view. Dune fields such as this usual-
ly occupy low topographic points into which rivers have drained
for millions of years. In such basins, water is sometimes near
the surface. In this photograph, brackish pools occupy hollows
between the lowest-lying dunes. Brackish water and an almost
complete lack of rainfall prevent the growth of vegetation.
(S27-39-44)