A Mission Control Center operator at NASA’s Johnson Space Center took this photo of the Himalaya mountains while the International Space Station orbited over central India. This oblique, north-looking view of the Himalayas was captured remotely using the External High-Definition Camera (EHDC), a camera that is mounted externally on the space station.
This picture was taken at sunrise, which is an opportune time to capture fog rolling through the mountain range into the shadowed valley to the south. Fog forms when air cools to the point where airborne water vapor condenses, which happens at night when the Sun’s light is no longer heating the surface. Throughout the night, the heavier, condensed air descends from the mountaintops and collects in nearby valleys. When the Sun rises, heat eventually evaporates the fog, clearing it away.
In the center-right of the image is Nepal’s Sagarmatha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sagarmatha National Park spans about 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) and is home to the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, otherwise known as Sagarmatha in Nepali and Chomolungma in Tibetan. Mount Everest stands at 8,849 meters (29,032 feet) in elevation. The park contains mountains, glaciers, deep valleys, and seven other peaks in addition to Mount Everest.
This area of the Himalayas is home to an indigenous group of people called the Sherpas, who are known for their mountaineering skills. The region’s high altitudes cause the area to be mostly devoid of vegetation. The small, forested areas, which support more than 110 types of birds, are composed of bamboo, birch, blue pines, and other types of trees. Other wildlife found in the area includes rare species such as the red panda and the elusive snow leopard.
Astronaut photograph ISS068-E-51118 was acquired on February 10, 2023, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a focal length of 340 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 an externally mounted camera on the ISS during Expedition 68. 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.