High winds menaced Australia’s residents in late September 2006, damaging buildings along the east coast and damaging crops and homes in South Australia. In the midst of this high-wind activity, a dust storm struck the Simpson Desert. Crossing the borders of three states (Northern Territory, Queensland, and South Australia), the Simpson Desert covers 170,000 square kilometers (about 65,000 square miles) and receives only slightly more rain than the Sahara Desert.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite took this picture on September 24, 2006. The MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite captured the storm a few hours earlier. In this image, the dust appears as a buff-colored plume that contrasts with the characteristic deep red soil of Australia’s outback.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC