Nevado Sajama and Parinacota

Nevado Sajama and Parinacota

Shot by an astronaut onboard the International Space Station (ISS), this photograph highlights several snow- and ice-capped volcanoes as they cast early morning shadows over a mountainous region of Bolivia and Chile. Such long shadows often accentuate the three-dimensional sense of the landscape.

Nevado Sajama is an inactive stratovolcano that rises more than 6.5 kilometers (21,000 feet) above sea level, making it the highest mountain in Bolivia. It also stands 2.4 kilometers (7,800 feet) above the surrounding landscape. The low Sun angle in the morning casts a shadow about 20 kilometers long, nearly eight times the mountain’s topographic relief.

Nevado Sajama is the centerpiece of Sajama National Park, Bolivia’s oldest conservation land. The volcano and others in the area are part of the Andean Volcanic Arc, where volcanic activity is generated by the subduction of the Nazca Plate below the South American Plate.

The volcanoes west of Nevado Sajama (north is upper left in the image) delineate the border between Bolivia and Chile. Parinacota volcano is believed to still be active, though it has not erupted in recent recorded history. The lack of erosional features on its slopes—such as alcoves and steep valleys—implies that it is a geologically young surface.

Astronaut photograph ISS059-E-67743 was acquired on May 19, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 170 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 59 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 Andrew Britton, Jacobs Technology, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.