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5. Rub’ al Khali, Arabia
26 Jaw-Dropping Images of Our Planet by NASA
NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

The Rub’ al Khali is one of the largest sand deserts in the world, encompassing most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula. It includes parts of Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The desert covers an area larger than France. Largely unexplored until recently, the first documented journeys made by Westerners were those of Bertram Thomas in 1931 and St. John Philby in 1932. This image was acquired on Dec. 2, 2005 by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, or ASTER, aboard NASA’s Terra Earth-orbiting satellite.
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