Browse image
Resolutions offered for this image:
1000 x 782 pixels 540 x 422 pixels 4928 x 3280 pixels 720 x 480 pixels 4928 x 3280 pixels 640 x 426 pixels
Cloud masks available for this image:

Spacecraft nadir point: 22.8° N, 48.2° E

Photo center point: 23.5° N, 46.6° E

Nadir to Photo Center: West

Spacecraft Altitude: 214 nautical miles (396km)
Click for Google map
Width Height Annotated Cropped Purpose Links
1000 pixels 782 pixels No No Earth From Space collection Download Image
540 pixels 422 pixels Yes Yes Earth From Space collection Download Image
4928 pixels 3280 pixels No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site Download Image
720 pixels 480 pixels Yes No NASA's Earth Observatory web site Download Image
4928 pixels 3280 pixels No No Download Image
640 pixels 426 pixels No No Download Image
Other options available:
Download Packaged File
Download a Google Earth KML for this Image
View photo footprint information
Image Caption: Saudi Arabia Canyonlands

Crews aboard the International Space Station are trained to use low sun angles to add a strong three-dimensional effect to flat landscapes--well illustrated by this image of central Saudi Arabia. The main river (image lower right), located 120 km (75 miles) south of the capital city Riyadh, has eroded its bed down into the rock layers making a small canyon 250 m deep (820 feet). This in turn has led all its tributaries to dig their own canyons--with the resulting elaborate, leaf-like pattern landscape that casts shadows in the late afternoon sun, attracting the astronaut's eye.

This detailed image--the area covered is only 12.5 km (7.7 miles) across--shows a road following the main river. River beds are often the smoothest places in deserts for wheeled vehicles, connecting villages that also occupy river beds and terraces next to rivers, for access to well water. Dark dots in the main river bed are trees that only grow in the river beds where their roots are able to reach subsurface water.

The center of the small plateau surface in the center of the image is a slightly different color from the area surrounding it. This is a lighter-toned layer of sedimentary rock, one of many in the area. Other thin layers make benches within the canyons (image lower left)--in the same style as seen in the Grand Canyon of the USA but on a much smaller scale.