Plumes of dust were being pulled from the Tian Shan Mountains and across the Taklimakan Desert basin in western China on March 26, 2004, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite captured this image. The image is unusual in that it shows the very beginnings of a dust storm. Typically, the basin fills with dust so that the source of the storm can't be identified. Here, the dust has only just blown from its source on or near the mountains, image left, and is moving east. The dust seldom leaves the basin, but instead is contained in the bowl formed by the Tian Shan Mountains on the north and the west, and the Kunlun Shan and the Altun Shan on the south and the east.
The high resolution image provided above is at MODIS’ maximum resolution of 250 meters per pixel. The image is available in additional resolutions.
Ringed by the Kunlun Mountains to the south and the Tien Shan Mountains to the north, a dust storm over the Taklimakan Desert is confined to the desert basin in this true-color Aqua MODIS image from April 18, 2003.
On May 10, 2007, a dust storm covered most of the Taklimakan Desert in western China. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured an image of the storm at 05:50 UTC. The storm had intensified by the time the MODIS sensor on NASA’s Aqua satellite took another picture at 07:30 UTC.