Shuttle Imaging Radar provides a pictorial framework to guide exploration for mineral resources (potential placers), groundwater sources, and prehistoric archaeological sites in the Western Desert of Egypt and Sudan. Documented penetration by the SIR-A signal of dry surficial sediment to depths of a meter or more revealed bedrock geologic features and networks of former stream valleys otherwise concealed beneath windblown sand, alluvium, and colluvial deposits. 'Radar units' mapped on SIR-A images according to relative brightness and degree of mottling correspond to subsurface geologic and topographic features identified in more than 50 test pits. Petrologic examination of pit samples confirms that a variety of depositional environments existed in this now hyper-arid region before it was mantled by windblown sand sheets and dunes. Wet sand was discovered in two buried valleys shown on the radar images and located in the field with the aid of co-registered maps and Landsat images, and a satellite navigation device. Buried valleys whose streams once traversed mineralized zones are potential sites of placers (gold, tin).