On Your Next Trip to Space, Look Out for the Eye of the Sahara

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
May 14 2014 11:43 AM

The Richat Structure: Stare into the Eye of the Sahara

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

The next time you're flying over Mauritania — or passing above Africa aboard the International Space Station — have a glance out the window and see if you can spot the Richat Structure. It shouldn't be too difficult: the thing is 30 miles wide.

Also known as the Eye of the Sahara, the Richat Structure is thought to be a heavily eroded circular symmetrical uplift — that is, a dome-shaped section of rock that rose up from the earth's surface. (If you looked at the Richat bull's-eye and thought, 'That there is an impact crater from a meteorite,' don't feel sheepish. Many scientists believed the same thing when the Eye of the Sahara was first spotted from space in the mid-'60s.)

This Landsat satellite image has been combined with an elevation model and colored to indicate topographical features. Bedrock is brown, sand is yellow, vegetation is green, and salty sediments are light blue.


Other structures best viewed from above:

View Richat Structure in a larger map



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Amazon Is Launching a Serious Run at Apple and Samsung


Slim Pickings at the Network TV Bazaar

Three talented actresses in three terrible shows.


More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

We Could Fix Climate Change for Free. Now There’s Just One Thing Holding Us Back.

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Sept. 17 2014 4:49 PM Schooling the Supreme Court on Rap Music Is it art or a true threat of violence?
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?