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Spacecraft nadir point: 23.6° N, 71.5° E

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Spacecraft Altitude: 217 nautical miles (402km)
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Image Caption: Salt ponds, Rann of Kutch, India

The Rann of Kutch is a long, narrow salt flat that stretches from the Arabian Sea coast 325 km (200 mi) inland in an almost straight line (rann comes from a Hindi word meaning desert). Situated in westernmost India along the Pakistani border, the Rann is famous for its marshy salt flats which become snow white (image lower left) after the shallow monsoon flood water dries up. Angular evaporating ponds along the floor of the Rann (image top right) are the heart of a major salt-producing industry. The straight lines across much of the image are ditches dug to help control the flow of salt-rich water. Scale is difficult to judge in this landscape of abstract shapes--here the image width represents 16 km (10 mi), illustrating the great extent of the drainage ditches. The light green tint lower right is very shallow water from a small river draining dark-toned farmland (image top right).

This inhospitable but resource-rich lowland--it also contains natural gas deposits--has been at the center of a border dispute between India and Pakistan.

Thousands of years ago the Rann was a shallow arm of the Arabian Sea. Land uplift caused by tectonic forces then closed off the connection with the sea, creating a vast lake that was still navigable during the time of Alexander the Great.