A recently released satellite photo of what once was one of the largest inland seas in the world, Russia's Aral Sea, shows a mostly dried-up lakebed only a tenth of its original size (seen in black).
The image, taken in March, is partially obscured by wispy, high-altitude cirrus clouds that were previously invisible to satellites.
But NASA's new Landsat Earth-observation satellite can detect the specific wavelength of light that bounces off the ice crystals in cirrus clouds, which helps scientists capture the true atmosphere of the photograph.
For instance, a natural-color image of the Aral Sea taken on the same day (not pictured) revealed no clouds. (Related photos: "Dried-up Aral Sea Aftermath.")
"Cirrus clouds can be so thin that they won't be visible in a typical image," Pat Scaramuzza, a senior scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said in a statement.