STS044-87-76

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Spacecraft nadir point: 26.7° N, 46.8° E

Photo center point: 29.0° N, 48.0° E

Nadir to Photo Center: Northeast

Spacecraft Altitude: 198 nautical miles (367km)
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Image Caption: STS044-75-25, STS044-75-27, STS044-87-76 (CIR): KUWAIT AFTER THE OIL FIRES
In this first view of Kuwait after the extinguishing of the oil field fires that covered the area with smoke plumes from early February to early November 1991, we can see both large and small areas blackened by particulate deposits. The oil-blackened sand around the major oil fields Al Ahmadi and Al Burquan, south and west of Kuwait City, are etched by roads. Several smaller smoke-blackened areas farther west mark the locations of more minor oil fields. The oily smoke plumes that dramatized the Kuwaiti fires extended no more than a few hundred kilometers from the source and rose no higher than 5 km into the atmosphere. Thus, when considered in a regional context, the environmental impact of the smoke may be small. But the change in the physical appearance of the landscape indicates that the oily plumes did have an impact on the local ecology. The implications of these particulate deposits are not known, but certainly the changes in the optical properties (albedo of the surface) of the sand sheet and dunes will alter the microecology of the area.