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Astronaut looks down at Earth from ISS and sees huge skull looking back

Astronaut looks down at Earth from ISS and sees huge skull looking back

The astronaut aboard the International Space Station spotted what appeared to be a skull staring back at him from earth

An astronaut sitting up on the International Space Station floating above the earth was taken aback when he glance down at our home planet to see a giant skull staring back at him.

No, it isn’t the lair of some supervillain, or perhaps a mystical land of horrendous creatures, there is – of course – a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this.

However, it’s still a pretty spooky thing to see staring back at you, as if the endless expanse of space wasn’t creepy enough.

It was actually shared Halloween, too, though the photo was taken on February 12, earlier this year.

That adds a whole different dimension to things, doesn’t it?

The photo captured from the International Space Station.
ISS/NASA

The astronaut was spinning around on the ISS, some 40 kilometres from the surface of the earth, when he spotted what appeared to be a giant skull marked into the earth.

In truth, it’s actually a geological formation in Africa, featuring a couple of smouldering volcano cones that make up the black eyes of the skull.

The area is called Trou au Natron and it sits in the middle of the African nation of Chad in the Sahara desert.

The formation is a 1,000 metre deep volcanic caldera that stretches about six to eight kilometres across, depending on where you measure from.

The bottom of the pit, which actually gives it the name, is covered in a substance called natron, which is a type of salt that consists of sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium sulphate, and sodium chloride.

The black pits are actually volcanic cinder cones that have grown up around the vents that let the energy from within the earth out.

The area is in northern Chad, sat within the Tibesti Mountains, which are the biggest mountains in the Sahara, standing at around 2,450 metres – or about 8,040 feet – above sea level.

If you ever want to go there, you’ll be lucky, because it’s a seriously remote location.

Trou au Natron.
Wikimedia Commons

However, that means that – despite seeming inhospitable – it does harbour some diverse wildlife, as well as being the historic homeland of the semi-nomadic Toubou people.

Basically, it’s a fascinating place, but you’re unlikely to be able to get there.

Nobody really has been able to, which is why scientists are so interested in the place.

Because of the location’s remoteness, as well as a bit of political unrest in the country, little is understood about the area - so nobody actually knows when it formed.

The volcano is now extinct, and we also don’t know when it last erupted.

So, maybe it is a supervillain’s secret hideout, after all.

Featured Image Credit: NASA/Getty

Topics: Space, Weird, World News, Science, Travel