ISS038-E-47388

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Spacecraft nadir point: 38.5° N, 57.9° E

Photo center point: 34.8° N, 55.0° E

Nadir to Photo Center: Southwest

Spacecraft Altitude: 221 nautical miles (409km)
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Image Caption: Kavir Desert, Iran

This striking pattern of numerous parallel lines and sweeping curves greets orbiting observers in the International Space Station as they pass over the deserts of central Iran. The lack of soil and vegetation allows the geological structure of the rocks to appear quite clearly. The patterns result from the gentle folding of numerous, thin, light and dark layers of rock. Later erosion by wind and water cut a flat surface across the folds, not only exposing hundreds of layers but also showing the shapes of the folds. The pattern has been likened to the layers of a sliced onion.

The dark water of a lake (image center) occupies a depression in a more easily eroded, S-shaped layer of rock. The irregular light-toned patch just left of the lake is a sand sheet thin enough to allow the underlying rock layers to be detected. A small river snakes across the bottom of the image. In this desert landscape there are no fields or roads to give a sense of scale. In fact, the image width represents a distance of 84 km.