Orbital View: Oasis in the Sahara

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Since the Orbital View feature launched last August, we’ve seen a lot of crop circles formed by center-pivot irrigation, but here’s the first from abroad:

From NASA’s caption:

The Al Khufrah Oasis is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 10 crew member on the International Space Station in October 2004. Green circles in the desert frequently indicate tracts of agriculture supported by center-pivot irrigation. The Al Khufrah Oasis, in southeastern Libya near the Egyptian border, is one of Libya’s largest agricultural projects, and is an easy-to-recognize landmark for orbiting crew members aboard the station.

More recent images of the oasis can be found in a 2013 video from the European Space Agency, whose host goes into great detail over the fossil aquifers that supply the irrigation water:

For more YouTube goodness, here’s some footage from 1942 of Nazi Germany bombing the Libyan oasis.

(See all Orbital Views here)