As the International Space Station (ISS) was passing over the Horn of Africa, an astronaut shot this photograph of Somalia’s capital city, Mogadishu. This historic port on the coast of the Indian Ocean is home to more than 2 million people.
Just inland from the coast, sand dunes flank the urban area. Prevailing winds from the east-northeast shape the dunes into ridges perpendicular to the wind direction. Geologists call these “transverse dunes.” The red and orange colors in the dune fields are due to natural chemical and weathering processes that left behind traces of iron in the sandy minerals. These dunes stand in contrast to the lightly-colored, calcium carbonate-rich sands near the shore.
Further inland, rectangular agricultural fields are visible near the town of Afgoye. A small segment of the vital Shebelle River is visible running through the farmland and town. The Shebelle starts in Ethiopia’s highlands and trends south towards the Jubba River (far outside this photo to the right).
Astronaut photograph ISS062-E-39375 was acquired on February 19, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 400 millimeter lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 62 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Andrew Britton, Jacobs, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.