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When a dust storm blew across northern Mexico and up into Texas and New Mexico this past Thursday, NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) just happened to be in the area. Attached to NASA's Aqua satellite, which is timed to pass over the equator from south to north every the afternoon, MODIS scans the entire surface of the Earth every one to two days to "improve our understanding of global dynamics," according to the MODIS website. "MODIS is playing a vital role in the development of validated, global, interactive Earth system models able to predict global change accurately enough to assist policy makers in making sound decisions concerning the protection of our environment." It also captures really great pictures.

Dust storms, like the one seen here, are a fairly common occurrence in this part of the world, where small sand seas and dry salt lakes make for excellent source points.

Image: NASA, Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team.

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