The Shebelle River has its headwaters in the Ethiopian Highlands
and transports water and sediment 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) to the
southeast across Ethiopia, before continuing an additional 130
kilometers (80 miles) into Somalia. The river supports limited
agricultural development within the arid to semi-arid Ogaden Plateau of
This astronaut photograph illustrates a network of irrigation canals
and fields located approximately 42 kilometers (26 miles) to the
west-northwest of the city of Gode. Floodplain sediments and soils are
dark brown to gray (image center), and contrast with the reddish rocks
and soils on the adjacent plateau. Vegetation in the flood plain (image
top center) and agricultural fields is dark green.
Water in the Shebelle River and the irrigation canals has a bright,
mirror-like appearance due to sunglint, or light reflecting off the
water surface back toward the International Space Station. The river
water supports a variety of crops—the most common being sorghum and maize—as well as grazing for livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, and camels).
The Shebelle River does not reach the Indian Ocean during most years,
but disappears into the sands near the coast in Somalia. During periods
of heavy rainfall and flooding however, the Shebelle can reach the Indian Ocean.
Astronaut photograph ISS027-E-9564
was acquired on March 31, 2011, with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera using a
400 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations
experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space
Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 27 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab
to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest
value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely
available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and
cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC.