While orbiting over the western edge of South America, an astronaut onboard the International Space Station (ISS) photographed part of the Chachani volcanic group in the Andes Mountains. The photo was taken in the late afternoon (Peru time), leading to shadows being cast by the high peaks. The volcano is situated north of Arequipa, Peru’s second most-populous city.
While Peru has several active volcanos, Chachani is considered dormant. Evidence of past volcanic activity here arises from the remnant lava domes, stratovolcanoes, and shield volcano that mark the landscape.
Chachani is much broader than it is tall, standing approximately 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) above its surrounding terrain with a width of about 17,000 meters (55,800 feet). Its slopes are still steep for those navigating the terrain, as indicated by faint zig-zag roads (also called switchbacks) on the southeastern flank of the mountain. These paths are used by hikers to start their ascent toward the peak.
Snowfields are visible near the peaks, but no glaciers currently remain on this mountain. The region once had extensive glaciers during the last glacial maximum about 20,000 years ago.
Astronaut photograph ISS065-E-291881 was acquired on August 21, 2021, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 1150 millimeters. It 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 65 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 Minna Adel Rubio, GeoControl Systems, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.