A close-up of the Richat structure in the Sahara Desert of Mauritania in northern Africa.
This Envisat image, acquired by its MERIS instrument on 1 November 2010, captures spectacular geological phenomena in the Sahara Desert of Mauritania in northern Africa: the remarkable circular Richat structure (right), which resembles an eye from space, and a magnetic mountain, the Kediet ej Jill Mountain, Mauritania’s highest peak, visible northwest of Richat. Courtesy of ESA (European Space Agency)
The Richat Structure is one of those geological features that are more clearly observed from space than from down on the ground. It was first observed from space by Gemini 4 astronauts McDivitt and White in June 1965.
Located in the center of Mauritania, the western end of the Sahara desert this prominent circular feature has attracted attention since the earliest space missions because it forms a conspicuous bull's-eye in the otherwise rather featureless expanse of the desert. Described by some as looking like an outsized ammonite in the desert, this 'eye of Africa' , which has a diameter of almost 50 kilometers (30 miles) has become a landmark astronauts since the earliest manned missions.
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