The divide between lush forest and desert is striking in this photograph taken by an astronaut onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Meandering rivers and farmland comprise most of the lower right half of the photo, while the upper left shows part of the Atacama Desert just beyond the Andes Mountains.
The Bermejo River originates in the Andes Mountains in Bolivia and flows into the Paraguay-Paraña Rivers. The Bermejo is notably lighter in color than other stream courses because of the abundance of sediment it carries. The river channel also moves regularly due to the combined processes of erosion and deposition along its banks, as evidenced by the meandering pattern.
The Andes are one of the most biodiverse regions of the world. The small portion of the mountain range shown in this photo (from southwest Bolivia and northwest Argentina), provides a great example of the contrast between the high mountain desert and temperate Yungas and Chaco forests.
Astronaut photograph ISS061-E-40134 was acquired on November 13, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 65 millimeter lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 61 crew. The image 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 Laura Phoebus, Jacobs Technology, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.