Earlier today, a giant dust storm swept over all of eastern Australia, the worst the area has seen in 70 years. The storm also brought hail and strong winds. And it's a menacing cloud even when seen from space.
The above image is from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite. In the image, you can see the dust rising and heading east in plumes. The plumes then gather into the giant wall of dust that ravaged the east coast of Australia.
Australian news sources report that the dust reached concentrations of 15,000 micrograms per cubic meter in New South Wales. Normally, the particle concentration averages somewhere between 10 and 20 micrograms per cubic meter. It's not surprising, then, that this huge storm so greatly affected people.
The storm shut down flights, forced people indoors, and generally mucked things up for most of the morning. By mid-day, however, the sky was clear again and the storm was over. The Big Picture has gathered some pretty awesome images of the storm, which make familiar eastern Australian landmarks look like they've been transported to the surface of Mars.