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Spacecraft nadir point: 17.7° S, 63.0° W

Photo center point: 19.5° S, 68.0° W

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Spacecraft Altitude: 212 nautical miles (393km)
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Image Caption: STS084-706-069 Altiplano, Lake Poopo, Uyuni Salar, Bolivia May 1997
The Altiplano of southern Bolivia is a sediment-filled depression between the eastern and western ranges of the Andes Mountains. The high plateau sits at an average elevation of 12,000 feet (3660 meters) and is nearly 500 miles (805 km) long and reaches 500 miles (805 km) at its widest point. Vegetation is sparse. The climate is dry and cold. The region is dotted with salars or salt pans. One such salar is the Salar Uyuni located just above the center of the image. The Salar Uyuni is nearly 85 miles (137 km) wide and 100 miles (161 km) long and covers an area of 3600 sq. miles (9324 sq. km). The Salar Uyuni is a sea of salt with a crust between 6 feet (18 meters) to 24 feet (72 meters) thick. The Salar Uyuni is the largest expanse of salt in South America. This and other salars in the southern region of the Altiplano of southern Bolivia are the remnants of former Lake Minchin that flooded the region over 10000 years ago, the result of melting glaciers from the Ice Age. Between the center and the right center of the image, Lake Poopo is discernible. Covering an area of 965 sq. miles (2499 sq. km) and sitting at 11000 feet (3355 meters) above sea level, Lake Poopo has an average depth of just 10 feet (3 meters) and at times will have little or no standing water within it. The Desaguadero River feeds the lake.