Mysterious Geologic Structure Seen from Space

Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers snapped this photo of a rock formation in Mauritania from the International Space Station.

A huge, copper-toned formation in West Africa dominates a mesmerizing photo taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers snapped this hypnotic image of the so-called Richat structure in Mauritania, as the space station flew over the Sahara Desert on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa. Erosion of the various rock layers created the ring-like features that make up the sprawling structure, but the origin of the Richat structure remains somewhat mysterious, geologists have said.

The photo shows Kuipers’ unique vantage point from the orbiting complex, which flies approximately 240 miles (386 kilometers) above the surface of the Earth. The image was taken on March 7 using a Nikon D2Xs camera, officials at the European Space Agency said in a statement.

During their months-long stints aboard the International Space Station, astronauts often perform Earth observations for science and public outreach.

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