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Saudi Desert Blooms: Earth Image of the Week March 9, 2012
Satellite Image of Saudi Arabia farm fields.
Pumping water from deep undergound has allowed oil-rich Saudi Arabia to turn vast tracts of desert into productive farms.
Saudi Arabia has joined Israel and other countries with an ability to make the deserts of the Middle East bloom.

The image to the right of the Anaam Agricultural Project in the Wadi As-Sirhan Basin of northwestern Saudi Arabia was taken on February 21, 2012, from aboard the International Space Station.

While each individual dot appears quite small from high in Earth orbit, they are actually thousands of feet across.

The small inset photo from the enlarged image shows one such field being irrigated beneath the Saudi Desert sun.

The fields are irrigated from water pumped up from underground aquifers, then distributed from lengths of sprinkler equipment that rotate around a central pivot.

This creates the circular patterns seen in the image. Each circle of crops is just over a half-mile across.

Dots that appear green were in production at the time the astronaut photo was taken. Those that appear tan or light beige were fallow.

As recently as 1986, there was no such agriculture in the region.

But investments from oil income by the Saudi government have created vast fields of crops, which include fruits, vegetables and wheat.

Full story and image: NASA