STS102-331-12
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Spacecraft nadir point: 8.1° N, 59.5° W

Photo center point: 9.0° N, 61.0° W

Nadir to Photo Center: Northwest

Spacecraft Altitude: 201 nautical miles (372km)
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Image Caption: Distributary Channels of the Orinoco River
Several meandering distributary channels of the Orinoco River are seen draining northward into the south side of the Gulf of Paria in eastern Venezuela. These sediment-laden channels carry a tremendous quantity of fluvial material that constantly changes the size and shapes of the shoreline and adjacent islands. An assortment of mud flats and sand bars, seen here as lighter colored features in the water, are affected both by stream flow and tidal forces. Although some sunglint (the sun's reflection off of the water surface) is evident in the image, there may also be some evidence of a sheen on the surface of the water that is caused by the oil drilling operations in the gulf. The extensive dark landscape identifies the flat, swampy coastal plains of northeast Venezuela that is covered by dense stands of vegetation.