Lake Nasser, Egypt

Lake Nasser, Egypt

One of the world’s largest artificial lakes, Lake Nasser is named after the Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, who is largely responsible for the lake’s creation. President Nasser decided to build the Aswan High Dam across the Nile, forming a lake approximately 550 kilometers (340 miles) long.

In this astronaut photograph taken from the International Space Station, the water of Lake Nasser stands out from its surroundings due to sunglint. The Sun’s light reflects off the water’s surface and into the camera lens, giving Lake Nasser an iridescent sheen. Sunglint is a common phenomenon in satellite images as well as astronaut photographs.

The Aswan High Dam, which created this massive lake, is the newer of two dams in the vicinity. The older of these dams is known as the Aswan Low Dam, or simply the Aswan Dam. Completed in 1902, the older dam had nearly overflowed by the middle of the 20th century, despite having been raised twice. Instead of raising it a third time, officials chose to build the Aswan High Dam upriver in the 1960s. The dam proved to be a mixed blessing, providing some residents with irrigation and drinking water, but forcing thousands of others to relocate to higher ground.

The Aswan High Dam ultimately proved much more effective than its predecessor, so effective that the dam’s construction spawned another massive effort. The ancient Egyptian temple of Abu Simbel lay in the path of the rising waters produced by the new dam. In the 1960s, the historical site was literally taken apart piece by piece and reassembled in a new place to avoid submersion. The Aswan High Dam has not, however, proven immune to overflowing. High levels of rainfall led to new lakes in the region in the late 1990s.

The name of Lake Nasser technically refers only to the portion of this lake in Egypt. The Sudanese prefer to call their portion of the lake Lake Nubia.

Astronaut photograph ISS010-E-14618 was acquired January 23, 2005, with a Kodak 760C digital camera with a 400 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Group, Johnson Space Center. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory 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.