Astronauts from the European Space Agency (ESA) have recently shared stunning photos of the Namib Desert in western Namibia that were taken from space. The Namib Desert is considered one of the oldest deserts on Earth, believed to have been formed approximately 55 million years ago. Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen posted several breathtaking images of the Namib Desert on a social media platform. In one of the photos, a crater-like feature can be seen in the enclosed desert, known as Mount Brookaros.
Mogensen explains that although it appears to be a meteor crater, it is actually a caldera, measuring about 4 kilometers in diameter. This caldera was formed by an underground explosion caused by superheated groundwater due to rising magma. Along the coast of Namibia, the Namib Desert is believed to be the oldest desert in the world, dating back 55 to 80 million years.
Termed as one of the driest places on Earth, the Namib Desert derives its name from the Nama language, meaning “empty area.” NASA states that the formation of the Namib Coast desert is influenced by a cold ocean current called the Benguela Current. While this current restricts rainfall in the region, it leads to the generation of morning fog that remains trapped on the surface of the dunes, resulting in sparse vegetation. The sand dunes of the Namib Desert are formed by powerful onshore winds and are the tallest in the world, reaching heights of up to 1,167 feet in some areas. These dunes are created when materials are transported over thousands of kilometers by rivers, ocean currents, and wind. Additionally, reptiles and mammals in arid regions depend on fog as their primary source of water.