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ISS nadir point: 21.9° S, 67.6° W

Photo center point: 22.2° S, 67.8° W

Nadir to Photo Center: Southwest

Spacecraft Altitude: 218 nautical miles (404km)
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Image Caption: Laguna Colorada, Bolivia

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this detailed image of the brightly colored Laguna Colorada, unique in this part of the Bolivian Andes Mountains and a well-known feature to astronauts. The lack of atmospheric haze at great altitude—the lake lies at 4300 m above sea level (14,100 feet)—helps make images of the region especially clear. The strong red-brown color of this shallow, 10 km-long lake is derived from algae that thrive in its salty water. But the lake occasionally has green phases because different algae display different colors, the type being determined by the changing salinity and temperature of the water. As the lake water evaporates in the desert climate it becomes saline. Snow-capped volcanoes appear image top center and lower left. Ancient shorelines show that the lake has been larger in the past.

Laguna Colorada is the center of a wild-life reserve (listed in 1990 as a “Ramsar Wetland of International Importance”)and home to large numbers of flamingo. Access roads on three sides of the lake are used by tourists who visit these other-worldly landscapes.