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Friday, 25 January, 2002, 17:09 GMT
Mountains snapped from space
On the left side you can see... the Himalayas
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse

This remarkable aerial view shows the snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas as seen from the International Space Station (ISS).

Although it looks as if it was taken from a cruising aeroplane, it was actually snapped by a hand-held 35mm camera looking out of the ISS window at an altitude of 370 kilometres (230 miles) above the Earth.

Clearly visible is Dhaulagiri, the White Mountain according to local legend, the seventh-highest mountain on the planet. In the foreground lies the southern Tibetan plateau.

Point and click
When it was discovered in the early 19th Century, Dhaulagiri (at 8,167 metres or 26,790 feet) was thought to be the highest mountain in the world, a title it held for 30 years. It was first climbed in 1960.

The Himalayan mountains were formed about 70 million years ago by tectonic motion as the Indian plate began a collision with the Eurasian plate. The Himalayas are still rising as a result of the collision, at a rate of a few millimetres per year.

When the photograph was taken out of the window of the ISS, the view south-eastwards was across the southern Tibetan plateau, to the Dhaulagiri range of the Himalayas in central Nepal.

The upper reaches of the more than 2,414-kilometres- (1,500-miles-) long Brahmaputra River, which enters the Indian Ocean near Calcutta, are within the broad, high (about 5,200 m or 17,000 ft) valley in the foreground.

The region is home to hundreds of species of rare plants and animals, including the snow leopard and blue or Tibetan sheep. Dhaulagiri is a significant destination for trekkers and climbers.

See also:

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