Sultan Al Neyadi shares photos of Sahara sandstorm from space

UAE astronaut says taking pictures on board the ISS is one of his favourite pastimes

One of the images of the sandstorm in the Sahara. Photo: Sultan Al Neyadi
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UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi has shared images of a sandstorm sweeping across the Sahara.

Dr Al Neyadi, 41, posted pictures he took of the storm, accompanied by a caption saying the opportunity to take photos in space is one of his favourite things to do on board the International Space Station (ISS).

"From so far away, I am constantly reminded of the beauty of our planet," he wrote.

"One of my favourite activities on the ISS is getting behind the lens for Earth observation, capturing breathtaking sights that can only be witnessed from space.

"I'm delighted to share this recent image I clicked of a sandstorm, sweeping across the enchanting Sahara."

The Sahara is one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. Stretching 9,200,000 square kilometres across North Africa, it is the largest hot desert in the world.

However, scientists revealed in 2021 that it was teeming with life as recently as 6,000 years ago.

Research published in Nature Geoscience uncovers the nature of this and other "greening phases", occurring every 20,000 years and lasting for about 5,000, when the desert was brought to life.

Through drilling up sediment cores in the Gulf of Sirte off the coast of Libya, an international research team was able to extend the hydroclimate record back 160,000 years, much further than previous data.

On Tuesday, Dr Al Neyadi shared a video on Twitter showing Egypt from the space station, specifically Cairo, which he described as "one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited in my life".

He has also had his first haircut on board the ISS. Long overdue for a trim, having arrived at the orbiting science laboratory nearly a month ago, Nasa astronaut Frank Rubio used a special suction device to cut his hair.

Since arriving at the station on March 3, Dr Al Neyadi has been multitasking, conducting scientific experiments, harvesting tomatoes and carrying out plumbing work.

He has been studying human heart tissue as part of research that could help scientists on Earth devise therapy and medication that could prevent people from developing heart disease.

He was also the test subject of another experiment in which researchers were studying astronauts' sleep quality in space.

Updated: March 30, 2023, 4:57 PM