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Atacama Desert Chile
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Atacama Desert, Chile

November 20, 2004
This Envisat image was acquired over northern Chile's Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth outside of the Antarctic dry valleys. Bounded on the west by the Pacific and on the east by the Andes, the Atacama Desert only knows rainfall between two and four times a century. The first sight of green in this Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) image occurs some 200 kilometres west of the coast, at the foothills of the Western Cordillera, where wispy white clouds start to make an appearance. There are some parts of the desert where rainfall has never been recorded.


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