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  Image: Geographic Location Direction Photo #: ISS023-E-28353 Date: Apr. 2010
Geographic Region: ARGENTINA
Feature: SALAR DE ARIZARO, PUNA, ATACAMA DESERT, VOLCANOES

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  View Low-Resolution Image  
  Panorama of Central Andes Mountains, Salar de Arizaro, Argentina

This panorama was taken by an astronaut looking southeast across the South American continent when the International Space Station (ISS) was almost directly over the Atacama Desert near Chile’s Pacific coast. The high plains (3000–5000 meters, or 13,000–19,000 feet) of the Andes Mountains, also known as the Puna, appear in the foreground, with a line of young volcanoes (dashed line) facing the much lower Atacama Desert (1000–2000 m elevation). Several salt-crusted dry lakes (known as salars in Spanish) occupy the basins between major thrust faults in the Puna. Salar de Arizaro (foreground) is the largest of the dry lakes in this view. The Atlantic Ocean coastline, where Argentina’s capital city of Buenos Aires sits along the Río de la Plata, is dimly visible at image top left.

Near image center, the transition (solid line) between two distinct geological zones, the Puna and the Sierras Pampeanas, creates a striking landscape contrast. Compared to the Puna, the Sierras Pampeanas mountains are lower in elevation and have fewer young volcanoes. Sharp-crested ridges are separated by wide, low valleys in this region. The Salinas Grandes—ephemeral shallow salt lakes—occupies one of these valleys. The general color change from reds and browns in the foreground to blues and greens in the upper part of the image reflects the major climatic regions: the deserts of the Atacama and Puna versus the grassy plains of central Argentina, where rainfall is sufficient to promote lush prairie grass, known locally as the pampas. The Salinas Grandes mark an intermediate, semiarid region.

What accounts for the changes in topography between the Puna and the Sierras Pameanas? The geology of this part of the Andes is a result of the eastward subduction of the Nazca tectonic plate underneath South America. Seismic data suggest that beneath the Puna, the Nazca Plate is dipping down steeply. Beneath the Sierras Pampeanas zone, however, the underlying Nazca plate is almost horizontal. The levelness may be due to the subduction of a submarine mountain range known as the Juan Fernández Ridge. In the simplest terms, ridges are topographic highs that are difficult to stuff down into the subduction zone, and that has profound effects on the volcanism and structures of the overlying South America plate.
 
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Images: All Available Images Low-Resolution 509k
Mission: ISS023  
Roll - Frame: E - 28353
Geographical Name: ARGENTINA  
Features: SALAR DE ARIZARO, PUNA, ATACAMA DESERT, VOLCANOES  
Center Lat x Lon: 26S x 67.5W
Film Exposure:   N=Normal exposure, U=Under exposed, O=Over exposed, F=out of Focus
Percentage of Cloud Cover-CLDP: 10
 
Camera: N5
 
Camera Tilt: HO   LO=Low Oblique, HO=High Oblique, NV=Near Vertical
Camera Focal Length: 80  
 
Nadir to Photo Center Direction: S   The direction from the nadir to the center point, N=North, S=South, E=East, W=West
Stereo?:   Y=Yes there is an adjacent picture of the same area, N=No there isn't
Orbit Number: 1533  
 
Date: 20100426   YYYYMMDD
Time: 123214   GMT HHMMSS
Nadir Lat: 21S  
Latitude of suborbital point of spacecraft
Nadir Lon: 69.1W  
Longitude of suborbital point of spacecraft
Sun Azimuth: 65   Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point
Space Craft Altitude: 187   nautical miles
Sun Elevation: 21   Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point
Land Views: DESERT, MOUNTAIN, RANGE, SALAR  
Water Views: RIVER  
Atmosphere Views:  
Man Made Views:  
City Views: BUENOS AIRES  
Photo is not associated with any sequences


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