Last update: June 18th, 2019 at 9:00 am
This photograph was taken from the International Space Station as astronauts flew over the Himalaya range, near the China — India border. It shows one of the main ranges of the Himalayas, where peaks cast strong evening shadows on the snow.
The mountains in this image reach great altitudes (5,200 meters or 17,000 feet); the peaks just beyond the upper edge of the image reach high enough (6,500 meters or 21,325 feet) to host glaciers.
For millions of years, water has eroded rock from these high mountains and deposited the sediment in ancient, broad alluvial fans. Snow cover highlights these strikingly smooth surfaces, while a trellis-like network of gullies cuts through and casts sinuous shadows. The largest river in the scene has cut a 500-meter-deep (1,650 foot) canyon (right).
Although the rivers in this photo drain northward from the Himalayas, they ultimately flow back to the south. The streams accumulate in the Sutlej River (not in this photo) and pass through the mountains toward the lowlands of Pakistan and, finally, the Arabian Sea.