ISS040-E-8209

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Spacecraft nadir point: 21.6° S, 30.6° E

Photo center point: 19.0° S, 23.0° E

Nadir to Photo Center: West

Spacecraft Altitude: 226 nautical miles (419km)
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Image Caption: Okavango Inland Delta, northern Botswana
The great Okavango delta in the Kalahari Desert is illuminated in the sun's reflection point in this panorama taken from the International Space Station. Using this sun glint technique, astronauts can image fine detail of water bodies. Here the bright line of the Okavango River shows the annual summer flood advancing from the well-watered Angolan Highlands (upper image margin) to the delta. Then the flood water slowly seeps across the 150 km-long delta, supplying forests and wetlands, finally reaching the fault-bounded lower margin of the delta in the middle of winter. Most of the water of this large river is used up by the forests, or evaporates in the dry air. Only 2% of the river's water actually exits the delta.

The wetland supports high biodiversity in the middle of the otherwise semiarid Kalahari Desert, and is now one of the most famous tourist sites in Africa. This view also shows the small quantity of water in the Boteti River. Okavango water only reaches the dry lake floors (image lower right) in the wettest years. Part of one of the ISS solar arrays is visible at image upper right.