We live our whole life from one dust cloud to another. The air is full of stuff: salt coming from the sea, black carbon black from forest fires and all kinds of dusty emissions from heavy industry.
Usually all that sprained gunk is invisible to us – but not to NASA's satellites and ground sensors. In a stunning new illustration, shown above, NASA & # 39; s Earth Observatory reveals the invisible, tiny particles that swirl around us.
NASA combined data from multiple sensors on satellites such as the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors on Aqua and Terra, as well as sensors on the ground to create a colored image of the aerosol plumes. [Earth Pictures: Iconic Images of Earth from Space]
Some of these dust clouds are the result of weather conditions. Hurricane Lane in Hawaii and typhoons Soulik and Cimaron off the coast of Japan have all kicked sea salt into the atmosphere. Across the Sahara Desert in Northwest Africa and the Taklamakan Desert in Northwest China, enclosed winds have formed clouds of fine particles in a similar manner.
Western North America and South Central Africa reveal signatures of a different kind of aerosol: the smoke of forest fires, that are often set by people – intentionally, as part of the annual agricultural cycles in Africa, or by imprudence as in North America. Part of that smoke from North America seems to have drifted east across the Atlantic in the image.
NASA noted that this image was not created by a single camera and does not even consist of a group of images taken directly by satellites or ground sensors. Instead, NASA used careful mathematics to bring together data from a range of different sources to find out where the densest concentrations of loose particles in the atmosphere are at the moment.
Originally published on Live Science.