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Spacecraft nadir point: 28.8° N, 78.1° E

Photo center point: 31.2° N, 79.8° E

Nadir to Photo Center: Northeast

Spacecraft Altitude: 216 nautical miles (400km)
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Image Caption: Rivers and snow in the Himalayas

This oblique image was taken from the International Space Station as astronauts flew over the Himalaya range in China near the Indian border. The view shows one of the main ranges of the Himalaya Mountains across the bottom of the image, where peaks cast strong evening shadows against the snow. The peaks reach great altitudes (5200 m, 17,000 feet), with those just outside the lower margin reaching high enough (6500 m, 21,325 feet) to host glaciers.

Rivers have eroded rock from these high mountains and deposited the sediment as broad alluvial fan surfaces (across the middle of the image). The snow cover shows these strikingly smooth surfaces. A trellis-work of gullies cuts into these surfaces casting sinuous shadows. The largest river in the view has cut a 500 m-deep (1650 foot) canyon through the fans (image left).

Although the rivers in the view drain northward from the Himalayas, they ultimately flow back south through the mountain ranges as the Sutlej River (outside the image)--in one of the largest canyons in the world--before entering the lowlands of Pakistan and finally reaching the Arabian Sea.