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Space & Astronomy

NASA astronaut photographs giant 'skull' in the Sahara desert

By T.K. Randall
November 1, 2023 · Comment icon 6 comments
Skull-shaped caldera in the Sahara desert.
This spooky-looking feature was once an active volcano. Image Credit: NASA
The image, which was recently featured on NASA's website, shows what looks like a giant cranium on the desert floor.
Photographs taken from space by astronauts are always fascinating, but this latest example - captured earlier this year from the International Space Station - is perhaps one of the most unusual we've seen.

Situated in the Tibesti Massif mountains of the Sahara desert which stretch through Chad and Libya, this bizarre skull-shaped feature might look like a Photoshop job, but it is in fact a genuine image of a giant volcanic caldera known as Trou au Natron.

Measuring 3,300ft in width, the volcano has been extinct for hundreds of thousands of years, but its appearance when viewed from above has made it one of the most intriguing features in the region.
The white color of the 'skull' is due to a mixture of various salty compounds, while the two eyes are actually cinder cones that are elevated above the rest of the crater floor.

"The remoteness of Trou au Natron makes it difficult for scientists to access," NASA wrote.

"However, analysis of rock and fossil samples collected in the 1960s indicate that Trou au Natron was filled by a glacial lake hundreds of meters deep about 14,000 years ago."

Source: Live Science | Comments (6)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Oniomancer 4 months ago
Looks more like a panda.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Cho Jinn 4 months ago
I was going to say, clearly an angry panda.  Ran out of bamboo, or something.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps 4 months ago
33 hundred feet, that's respectable. Yeah, panda sounds good
Comment icon #4 Posted by Myles 4 months ago
I think this is silly.    It is nothing.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Alchopwn 4 months ago
Meh.  I think I'll look elsewhere for building my Evil Lair.  This skull rock doesn't really cut it.
Comment icon #6 Posted by joc 4 months ago
Turn it 90 degrees...now what does it look like?  


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