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Wadi Kufra - Libya

Radar's ability to penetrate dry sand cover produced the discovery in this image: a previously unknown branch of an ancient river, buried for thousands of years under the sands of the Sahara Desert. This area is near the Kufra Oasis in southeast Libya. The image was acquired by the SIR-C/X-SAR imaging radar when it flew aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in October, 1994. This image reveals a system of old, now inactive stream valleys which, during periods of wetter climate, carried running water northward across the Sahara. The region now receives only a few millimeters of rainfall per year, and the ancient river valleys are mostly buried by windblown sand.

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