STS037-76-51

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Spacecraft nadir point: 24.3° S, 14.6° E

Photo center point: 24.8° S, 15.8° E

Nadir to Photo Center: East

Spacecraft Altitude: 246 nautical miles (456km)
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Image Caption:
NAMIB SAND SEA S37-76-51

Water drains down from the Namibian highlands (right side of the
picture) into the Namib Desert. Rivers such as the Tsauchab have
too little discharge to reach the Atlantic Ocean, and become lost
in the dunes of the Namib Sand Sea ending at the white playa
known as Sossus Vlei (left center).

The lines of dunes have been built by southerly winds, but strong
winds from the east (right) are funneled down the Tsauchab valley
making a locally more complex pattern of star dunes on either
side of the valley.

The sweep of the linear dunes is interrupted by hills: hills not
only deflect winds, but rainfall on the hills washes the blowing
sand away from the steeper slopes of the hills. Dunes sweeping
around hills can be seen at top center and bottom center.