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Spacecraft nadir point: 40.8° N, 91.8° E

Photo center point: 40.0° N, 91.0° E

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Nadir to Photo Center: Southwest

Spacecraft Altitude: 168 nautical miles (311km)
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Image Caption: STS047-153-193 Lop Nur (Salt Lake), China September 1992
Lop Nur, on the Tarim Basin's eastern edge in western China's Zinjiang Province, was created by a series of water level oscillations within the former lake. The concentric rings formed as the water evaporated from the lake and left various mineral deposits, including highly reflective salts, along the new shoreline. The former lake, which now resembles a giant ear, is large enough for Space Shuttle astronauts to use as an identifiable landmark from orbital altitudes. Two entrenched drainage streambeds flow north toward the salt lake. Little water appears to have been transported to Lop Nur through these watercourses for many years. Visible are a small plateau approximately 3000 feet (915 meters) above the terrain south of Lop Nur and extensive sand dunes and sand ridges to the southeast.