Orbital View: Great Ball of Fire!

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

Okay, not really—but it sure does look like one:

describes how the structure “has become a landmark for shuttle crews”:

This prominent circular feature in the Sahara desert of Mauritania has attracted attention since the earliest space missions because it forms a conspicuous bull’s-eye in the otherwise rather featureless expanse of the desert. Described by some as looking like an outsized fossil in the desert, the structure [has] a diameter of almost 30 miles… . Initially interpreted as a meteorite impact structure because of its high degree of circularity, it is now thought to be merely a symmetrical uplift that has been laid bare by erosion. Paleozoic quartzites form the resistant beds outlining the structure.

Either way, this song is going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

(See all Orbital Views here)