Evening Glow in the Junggar Basin.

June 1, 2023.

An astronaut on board the International Space Station took this photograph of northwestern China on a partly cloudy evening (local time). This view offers a small glimpse of the Junggar Basin, a low-lying area between the Altay Mountains to the northeast and the Tian Shan range to the southwest. Sedimentary rock layers and geomorphic features characterize the Junggar Basin landscape.

This photo, taken around 9 p.m. local time (13:00 Universal Time) on June 1, 2023, shows the western sides of sand dunes illuminated by the setting Sun. The space station serves as a unique remote sensing platform for photographing Earth due to its inclined equatorial orbit. This provides opportunities for crew to take images during day or night, depending on the timing of the station’s orbit path over a given ground location. Astronauts can use varied lighting conditions to highlight features that may be more visible depending on the time of day—especially smaller features such as dunes. Clouds (out of view of this picture to the northwest) cast long shadows that further darken parts of the image.

The reddish ribbon across the middle of this photo marks a change in local topography. Uplifted, older sedimentary layers to the north—part of the Luliang uplift—slope down toward a geographic depression to the south. Eroded rocks have drainage patterns that lead to an ephemeral stream at lower elevations. On both the top and bottom of the photo, long sand dunes oriented north-south overlay the bedrock. Beneath the surface, organic-rich rock layers preserve fossils and contain extensive coal, oil, and gas deposits.

Astronaut photograph ISS069-E-16826 was acquired on June 1, 2023, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 400 millimeters. The image was provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit at Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 69 crew. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Andrea Wenzel/Jacobs-JETS II Contract at NASA-JSC.

Source, NASA.