Last update: June 20th, 2019 at 5:00 pm
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this photograph as they flew over western India near the Pakistan border. The Rann of Kutch is a long, narrow salt flat that stretches inland in an almost straight line for 325 kilometers (200 miles) from the Arabian Sea coast. Rann comes from a Hindi word meaning desert, and the region is famous for its marshy salt flats which become snow white when the summer monsoon flood waters dry up. These inhospitable lowlands are resource-rich with minerals and natural gas deposits.
Angular evaporation ponds along the floor of the Rann are the heart of a major salt-producing industry. The straight lines across the image are ditches that help control the flow of salt-rich water. The scale is difficult to judge in this landscape of abstract shapes; in this case, the image shows an area roughly 16 kilometers (10 miles) wide. The light green tint (lower right) is shallow water from a small river that drains dark-toned farmland (top right).
Thousands of years ago, the Rann was a shallow arm of the Arabian Sea. Land uplift caused by tectonic forces then closed off the connection with the sea, creating a vast lake that was still navigable during the time of Alexander the Great.