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Chile, Atacama - MERIS - 10 January 2003
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- Title Chile, Atacama - MERIS - 10 January 2003
- Released 10/01/2003 4:40 pm
- Copyright ESA
This Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) image was acquired over northern Chile's Atacama Desert. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west of the desert, whose eastern boundary is formed by the Andes. The Atacama is known as one of the driest spots on earth; the first sight of green in this MERIS image lies some 200 kilometers west of the coast, at the foothills of the Western Cordillera, where wispy white clouds start to make an appearance.
Along the Pacific coast, the characteristic shape of the Mejillones peninsula is visible, where the town of Antofagasta lies just south of Moreno Bay on the southern side of the formation.
The Atacama was once a major mining area, with large deposits of sodium nitrate and copper, although today these mines are much depleted.
Rainfall in this part of the world is virtually non-existent, occurring only two to four times per century; in some parts of the desert rainfall has never been recorded. The only moisture available is from a dense fog known as camanchaca, formed when cold air from the Antarctic hits warmer air at a higher altitude. This fog is literally harvested by plants and animals alike, including the Atacama's human inhabitants who use "fog nets" to capture it for drinking water. (For more on using fog as a water supply, see Tapping Into Fog from Canada's International Development Research Centre, who first devised the technique.)
Instrument: MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS)
Date of Acquisition: 10 January 2003
Orbit number: 04516
Instrument features: FR
NE Lat/Long: S 21.14 / W 64.63
NW Lat/Long: S 20.05 / W 70.10
SW Lat/Long: S 25.87 / W 71.55
SE Lat/Long: S 26.96 / W 65.84