An immense dust storm was sweeping across northern Africa on January 9, 2005, and out over the Atlantic Ocean. The cloud of swirling, tan-colored dust stretches the width of the image—a distance of nearly 5,300 kilometers (3,293 miles). If we could pick the cloud up and relocate it to North America, it would stretch all the way across the United States and hang out into the oceans on both coasts for several hundred kilometers.
This image was made from observations collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) during a series of overpasses of NASA’s Aqua satellite on January 9, 2005. The dust appears very bright over the Bodele Depression (upper right) and then appears to darken as it spreads over the green landscapes to the west. In the southern part of the image, the dust may be mingling with smoke from thousands of agricultural fires.
Dust remained in the air another day, two days after a major dust storm struck northern Africa on February 23, 2006. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying onboard the Terra satellite captured this image on February 25. By the time this image was acquired, the dust had moved toward the northeast over the Mediterranean Sea.