Space Shuttle Mission Report Series: Earth Observations during STS-066
November 3 - 14, 1994
(continued)

Asia
     SAKURA-JIMA, JAPAN (STS066-100-027). One of the world's most active volcanoes, Sakura-jima in southern-most Kyushu, Japan, erupts dozens of times a year. Volcanic eruptions are so much a part of daily life in the city of Kagoshima (across the bay and west of Sakura-jima), that school children wear hard hats to school. This photo (fig. 2) provides a nice clear view of Sakura-jima on a quiet day - only a plume of steam rises from the summit crater. The summit region is covered with gray ash from the frequent eruptions, and some of the rivers cutting down the mountain (especially the western drainage's) appear to be filled with volcanic debris.

Figure 2     Figure 2: Sakura-Jima, Japan

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     INDONESIAN ISLANDS (STS066-154-157). This is a striking, oblique view to the south of the Indonesian Islands of Java (right), Bali, and Lombok (upper left). See figure 3. The linear array of dark regions across the photo is a chain of volcanoes which make up the back bone of this part of the Indonesian Islands. This chain has been quite active over the past six months, with major eruptions on Lombok and Bali during the summer of 1993, and continuing eruptions from Merapi in central Java. Plumes of steam can be seen rising from the summits of Arjuno (west-central Java) and Merapi (central Java, near the right side of this photo). Just three weeks after this photo was taken, Merapi experienced a major eruption that sent deadly mud flows down the mountain's flanks. The region appears hazy - both conditions due to an extended drought over Indonesia and Australia. Because of drought conditions, huge fires continue to burn over other regions of Indonesia, New Guinea and northern Australia, producing a regional smoke pall.

Figure 3     Figure 3: Indonesian Islands

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     NEPAL, MOUNT EVEREST (STS066-208-025). Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world at 8848 meters, was photographed as seen in figure 4. Also seen are Cho Oyu (8153 meters) northwest of Everest, and other peaks in what has been called the "Roof of the World." Abundant details of glacier surfaces, including moraines, crevasse fields and ice falls are displayed for further analysis and interpretation.

Figure 4     Figure 4: Mount Everest, Nepal

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     GANGES RIVER DELTA, BANGLADESH, INDIA (STS066-92-013). The Ganges River Delta (fig. 5) is the largest inter-tidal delta in the world. With its extensive mangrove mud flats, swamp vegetation and sand dunes, it is characteristic of many tropical and subtropical coasts. The vegetation cushions the shoreline from wind and wave action while the mangrove trees provide a habitat and food for aquatic and terrestrial plant and animal life. The increasing demand for lumber and firewood is outpacing the natural re-growth of the mangrove trees. Space Shuttle photographs, taken over time, permit monitoring of environmental changes in the delta caused by population pressures, and allows mapping of geological changes caused by shifting distributaries and delta growth. As seen in this photograph, the tributaries and distributaries of the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers deposit huge amounts of slit and clay that create a shifting maze of waterways and islands in the Bay of Bengal.

Figure 5     Figure 5: Ganges River Delta, Bangladesh and India

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