51.5 MB (5.9 MB compressed)
4252 x 4231 pixels
36.1 x 35.8 cm ⏐ 14.2 x 14.1 in (300dpi)
NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Swirls of low-level stratus clouds over the Canary Islands, seen from space. These clouds are typical of the west coast of continents at these latitudes (the Canary Islands are off the west coast of Africa). A temperature inversion traps the clouds in a low-level stream of air. As this passes over the islands (flowing left to right in this image), disturbances are set up causing large scale von Karman vortices. These swirl and mix the low-level air and produce these beautiful patterns. In the top right is the coast of Africa, its soft appearance being due to a dust storm. This photograph was taken by the crew of Shuttle Columbia during Mission STS-40 of 5-14 June 1991.
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