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Spacecraft nadir point: 44.5° N, 89.8° E

Photo center point: 39.5° N, 90.5° E

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Nadir to Photo Center: South

Spacecraft Altitude: 169 nautical miles (313km)
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Image Caption: STS047-151-26 Lop Nur, China September 1992
This low-oblique, south-looking photograph provides an excellent view of Lop Nur, a large ear-shaped salt basin. Mapped by ancient Chinese geographers as a large salt lake, Lop Nur is now largely dry, with numerous marshes and small shifting lakes. Lop Nur, with no outflow, is divided into two lake basins that receive seasonal waters from the Tarim River, which has often shifted channels during recent centuries, leading to changes in the exact site of the small salt lake. At the time this photograph was taken, the lake (small, brown body of water) was in the northeast corner of the salt basin. Since the early 1960s, Lop Nur has been used by the Chinese Government as a nuclear research area and testing ground; the first Chinese-developed atomic bomb was exploded there in 1964. A duststorm is blowing to the west of Lop Nur over the eastern Takla-Makan Desert. South of Lop Nur, two lakes appear in a break in the clouds covering the northern Tibetan Plateau and the A-Erch-Chin Range. Visible are elongated Ayakkum Lake south-southwest of Lop Nur and small blue-green Ko-Tzu Lake south of Lop Nur.