An astronaut aboard the International Space Station captured this photograph of the Eastern Sayan Mountains in northern Mongolia. As the Sun sets in the west (top of the image), shadows darken the eastern-facing mountain slopes and the adjacent valleys. The lower elevations in the photo are marked by taiga forests, while snow covers many of the mountaintops that are bare of vegetation.
These mountains are largely uninhabited, and the closest mapped town is approximately 90 kilometers (60 miles) from the center of the image. The region has served for centuries as a crossroads for journeyers and traders between Mongolia and Russia.
According to the Koppen Climate Classification, the region is classified as Dwc—snow with dry winters and cool summers. With slight fluctuations in temperature, snow melt and occasional precipitation travels down the mountain sides and into tributaries on the low river valley. These tributaries flow east, approximately 150 kilometers (100 miles) before emptying into Lake Khuvsgul, the largest freshwater lake in Mongolia by volume.
Astronaut photograph ISS052-E-45458 was acquired on August 12, 2017, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using an 1150 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 52 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 Andi Hollier, Hx5, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.