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Spacecraft nadir point: 51.7° N, 164.3° E

Photo center point: 52.7° N, 157.2° E

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Nadir to Photo Center: West

Spacecraft Altitude: 218 nautical miles (404km)
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Image Caption: Southern Kamchatka Volcanoes, Russia

Crews aboard the International Space Station took this snowy view of two volcanoes in Russia's Far East. The image is centered on the Bolshaya Ipelka volcano that measures 40 km (25 miles) wide at its base--considered by geologists to be the largest volcanic structure in southern Kamchatka. But this older volcano is inactive with deep valleys along its flanks that were excavated by glaciers flowing radially out from the summit zone during the ice ages of the last two million years. The summit is the most severely eroded part of the original cone and originally had a much higher elevation than its present altitude of 1155 m (3785 feet). By contrast, the much smaller Opala stratovolcano--the cone only measures 14.5 km (9 miles) across at the base--is still active (it last erupted about 300 years ago) and therefore shows the classic cone shape. In this uneroded state Opala reaches a much greater altitude (2475 m, 8120 feet) than Bolshaya Ipelka. The summit is high enough that on this day it was obscured by a small cloud.

Over the years ISS crews have imaged several volcanoes in this volcanically active part of the world. Low sun angles give dramatic three dimensional shots--such as
Kronotsky and Avachinsky. In some cases eruption activity can be subtle when seen from orbit. Other cases show dramatic eruptions such as those at Shiveluch and Kliuchevskoi.