Tanezrouft Basin, south-central Algeria

Date:18 July 2012 Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A terrible beauty. The extraordinary landscape of the Tanezrouft Basin, one of the most desolate parts of the Sahara desert, in south-central Algeria. The region is known as “land of terror” because of its lack of water and vegetation. This region is characterised by dark sandstone hills, steep canyon walls, salt flats (white), stone plateaus, sandstone outcrop patterns of concentric loops, and sprawling seas of multi-storey sand dunes known as “ergs”. Erg Mehedjibat, which appears as a bouquet of yellow flowers (upper right), is made up of a cluster of small star dunes that grow upwards rather than laterally. Japan’s ALOS (Advanced Land Observing Satellite) captured this image in 2009. Image credit: European Space Agency | JAXA

Launched in 2002, the European Space Agency’s Envisat Earth observation satellite is the largest Earth observation spacecraft ever built. Envisat is now retiring after 10 magnificent years – double its planned mission lifetime.

In this wallpaper collection, we feature a very small sample of the formidably large collection of images captured by the eight-ton satellite – equipped with 10 sophisticated optical and radar instruments – in more than 50 000 orbits, together with images from ESA’s so-called “Third Party” missions. Envisat has contributed immeasurably to our knowledge of Earth, its weather patterns, oceans, atmosphere, environmental challenges and myriad other processes.