Kansas: The View from Space

Bradley Rundquest

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Kansas is located at the center of the 48 contiguous states. Roughly rectangular, the state extends about 410 miles from east to west and 210 miles from north to south. The capital of Kansas is Topeka. Known as the Sunflower State, Kansas was probably first seen by Europeans in 1541 when Coronado ventured northward from Mexico in search of gold. The average annual temperature in Kansas is 55 degrees Fahrenheit, although the continental climate exhibits great extremes between summer and winter temperatures. Kansas occupies an area of 82,277 square miles and has a population of 2,477,574 (1990). Presented here are selected Space Shuttle photographs of Kansas, taken with hand-held cameras by the astronauts.

Space Shuttle Photographs Captions
1. STS062-083-052 Situated on the Verdigris River near the center of this photo is the town of Coffeyville, an important agricultural and industrial center near the Oklahoma border in southeast Kansas. Also depicted at upper left are Elk City Lake, a flood control and irrigation reservoir, and the city of Independence, seat of Montgomery County, Kansas. The crescent-shaped body of water at top center is Big Hill Lake. Copan Lake and Bartlesville, Oklahoma, are seen at lower left. Taken on March 5, 1994, this photograph highlights patterns of drainage, transportation, and agricultural land cover.
2. STS062-152-198 Evident here is the sharp contrast between the grass-covered Flint Hills and the cultivated river valleys and plains north of Wichita, which can be seen at bottom left. McConnell Air Force Base can be seen southeast of the city. Several smaller cities are depicted along Interstate 135 north of Wichita, such as Newton, Weaver, and McPherson. Highlighted in this photograph, taken March 10, 1994, are drainage systems and regional flood control and irrigation reservoirs, such as Marion Lake (near center) on the Cottonwood River, El Dorado Reservoir (bottom center) on the Walnut River near the town of El Dorado, and Council Grove Lake (upper right). Oil refining, grain processing, livestock marketing, and aircraft construction are important industries in this area.
3. STS062-152-202 The focal point of this photograph is Emporia, population 25,000, which lies south of the Neosho and north of the Cottonwood Rivers in the eastern Flint Hills. Interstate 35 is seen extending east from the city. To the west lies U.S. 50 and Cottonwood Falls in Chase County. Several reservoirs and recreation areas are depicted, including Council Grove Lake at upper left; John Redmond Reservoir, a part of Flint Hills National Wildlife Reserve, near bottom center; Melvern Reservoir and Eisenhower State Park near center; Pomona Reservoir and State Park north of Melvern; and Clinton Reservoir and State Park at upper right. The photo was taken March 10, 1994.


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