Dust stirred along the fringes of the Taklimakan Desert on April 1, 2008. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite took this picture the same day, capturing the beige plumes near the desert’s edge, especially in the southwest. A few clouds mingle with the dust in this picture, but most of the white in this image results from the snowcaps on the nearby mountains.
Sandwiched between the Tien Shan Mountains to the north and Kunlun Mountains to the south, the Taklimakan (or Takla Makan) fills the Tarim Basin. It is one of the world’s largest sandy deserts, and water flowing into the basin finds no outlet. Over the years, water-deposited sediments have steadily accumulated, creating sand cover 300 meters (roughly 1,000 feet) thick in some places.