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Mount Everest seen from space

Mount Everest seen from space

An astronaut's eye view of the Himalayas, with the peak of Mount Everest just visible at the top of the image.

This photograph—taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station—highlights the northern approach to Mount Everest from Tibet (China).

Known as the northeast ridge route, climbers travel along the East Rongbuk Glacier (image lower left) to camp at the base of Changtse mountain.

From this point at approximately 6,100 metres (20,000 feet) above sea level (ASL), climbers ascend the North Col—a sharp-edged pass carved by glaciers, at image centre—to reach a series of progressively higher camps along the North Face of Everest. Climbers make their final push to the summit (just off the top edge of the image) from Camp VI at 8,230 metres (27,000 feet) elevation.

Located within the Himalaya mountain chain, Everest (or Sagarmatha in Nepali) is the Earth’s highest mountain, with its summit at 8,848 metres (29,029 feet) ASL. Khumbutse mountain, visible at the lower right, has a summit elevation of 6,640 meters (21,785 feet) ASL.

While the viewing angle in this image—almost looking straight down from the International Space Station—tends to flatten the topography, astronauts have also taken images that highlight the rugged nature of the area.

See the full-size (1.7MB) image here.

On May 20, 2009, former NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski became the first human to both travel into space and to summit Everest.

Climbing to the summit of Everest requires much advance planning, conditioning, and situational awareness on the part of mountaineers to avoid potentially fatal consequences. As of 2010, there have been over 200 reported deaths.

The numerous expeditions to reach the summit of Everest have produced significant trash and spent oxygen bottles at the various camps, leading the Nepalese government to impose rules requiring climbers to return with their gear and rubbish. Several “cleanup” expeditions have removed tons of material, including the remains of several climbers.

Adapted from information issued by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC. Image by ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Centre.

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Amazing NASA video

  • Space Station has made 66,500 orbits since 1998
  • Astronauts see 15-16 sunrises/sunsets each day
  • Each orbit takes only 92 minutes

The International Space Station orbits 354 kilometres (220 miles) above the Earth, completing one trip around the globe every 92 minutes. Cruising along at 27,700 km (17,200 miles) per hour, the astronauts experience 15 or 16 sunrises and -sets every day.

Since the launch of the Zarya Control Module on November 20, 1998, the station has orbited the Earth over 66,500 times (as of June 27, 2010). The station’s orbit is inclined to the equator by 51.65°, meaning at its most northerly, it is at the latitude of London, England, and at it most southerly it is over the latitude of the Falkland Islands.

The video above is sequence of time-lapse photographs illustrating roughly half an orbit, from sunrise over Northern Europe (photo below) to sunset southeast of Australia, on April 28, 2010. The view looks to the north of the station’s ground track. In the upper-left, is the tail of the Space Shuttle Discovery, which docked with the Space Station during the STS-131 mission.

Sunrise over Northern Europe

Sunrise over Northern Europe, seen from the International Space Station.

The animation begins with a view of snow-covered Norway (image top) and the Jutland Peninsula (image centre). Low clouds cover Central Europe (image bottom).

The animation continues as the Station flies by Ukraine, eastern Russia, the Volga River, and then the Russian Steppes. South and east of the steppes, a dust storm comes into view over the Taklimakan Desert, followed shortly by the lake-studded Tibetan Plateau and the glaciers of the Himalayan Mountains (photo below). Smoke-shrouded lowlands hug the southern margin of the Himalaya. Smoke also covers much of Southeast Asia, including the Irrawaddy Delta.

The Tibetan Plateau and the glaciers of the Himalayan Mountains

The Tibetan Plateau and the glaciers of the Himalayan Mountains

After the Space Station passes over the sapphire-blue South China Sea, the island of Borneo appears, followed by the open expanse of the Indian Ocean. A trio of coral reefs lies off the coast of Western Australia, which is studded with clouds. Australia’s arid interior is coloured myriad shades of red (photo below).

Australia seen from orbit

The arid interior of Australia seen from orbit.

As sunset nears, cloud shadows lengthen, highlighting their structure. Night falls as the Space Station crosses the terminator (the “line” dividing the day and night halves of Earth) above the South Pacific.

Astronaut photographs STS131-E-11693 to STS131-E-12195 courtesy NASA JSC Image Science & Analysis Laboratory. Animation by Robert Simmon Text adapted from text written by Robert Simmon. Special thanks to William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC.

Glacier in the Himalayas

Stunning satellite image of a Chinese glacier and its lake.

Stunning satellite image of a Chinese glacier and its lake.

Besides the world’s tallest peaks, the Himalayan Mountain Range holds thousands of glaciers.

In southern China, just north of the border with Nepal, one unnamed Himalayan glacier flows from southwest to northeast, creeping down a valley to terminate in a glacial lake.

On December 25, 2009, the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this natural-colour image of the glacier.

Mountains on either side of the glacier cast long shadows to the north. From a bowl-shaped cirque, the glacier flows downhill. Where the ice passes over especially steep terrain, ripple marks on the glacier surface indicate the icefall. Northeast of the icefall, the glacier’s surface is mostly smooth for several kilometres until a network of crevasses marks the surface.

At the end of the glacier’s deeply crevassed snout sits a glacial lake, coated with ice in this wintertime picture. Just as nearby mountains cast shadows to the north, the crevassed glacier casts a shadow onto the lake’s icy surface. This glacial lake is bound by the glacier snout on one end, and a moraine—a mound formed by the accumulation of sediments and rocks moved by the glacier—on the other.

NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen, using EO-1 ALI data provided courtesy of the NASA EO-1 team. Text adapted from information issued by Michon Scott based on image interpretation by Bruce Raup, National Snow and Ice Data Centre.