Dasht-e Lut desert detail
Wind-carved ridges and furrows in southeast Iran’s Dasht-e Lut salt desert are pictured in this satellite image.
The desert is often called the ‘hottest place on Earth’ as satellites measured record surface temperatures there for several years. The highest land surface temperature ever recorded was in the Lut Desert in 2005 at 70.7ºC, as measured by NASA’s Aqua satellite.
The region is generally considered an abiotic zone – meaning that even bacteria cannot survive here, let alone plants and animals. Some reports claim that research groups brought sterilised milk to the desert and left it uncovered in the shade, but the milk remained sterile.
The area pictured is surrounded by salt flats, visible on the left side of the image. The ridges dominating the image extend about 125 km.
This image was acquired by Korea’s Kompsat-2 satellite on 4 November 2011.
ESA supports Kompsat as a Third Party Mission, meaning it uses its ground infrastructure and expertise to acquire, process and distribute data to users.
A Thought-Provoking Toy
by Michael Keller
The spinning top above illustrates an unusual asymmetry where it flips over if spun in a clockwise motion and stays upright when spun counterclockwise. This behavior is a result of chirality, a property in which something displays handedness. When the an object or system is chiral, its mirror images can’t be exactly mapped to each other—like your right and left hands.
Tadashi Tokieda, director of studies in mathematics at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, investigates and invents toys like the one above that exhibit interesting behaviors. He’s also a fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, where he presented what he calls the world’s first chiral tippy top. See the video with this and other toys that display chirality below.