Rio Grande, Meet the Gulf of Mexico

Rio Grande, Meet the Gulf of Mexico

An astronaut on the International Space Station captured this photo near the southernmost part of Texas. The image features the lower segment of the Rio Grande that defines a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Prior rainfall delivered light-colored sediment into the surrounding coastal wetlands near the SpaceX Starbase. Sediment also entered the Brownsville Ship Channel and South Bay Coastal Preserve, a nursery area for fish, shellfish, and dolphins.

Along Boca Chica Beach, sediment is carried from the mouth of the Rio Grande into the Gulf of Mexico. The Rio Grande frequently transports sediment which causes buildup in the bends of the river. The sediment buildup can disrupt water flow, redirect the river path, and result in detached bends called oxbow lakes.

Adjacent to the lower 275 river miles (442 kilometers) of the Rio Grande is the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge serves as a wildlife corridor that preserves biodiversity in the region and protects endangered species such as the ocelot.

Also visible in this image is the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area, which includes most of the coastal wetlands centered in this photo. The management area conserves white-winged dove nesting habitat and manages wetlands for wildlife.

Astronaut photograph ISS067-E-373247 was acquired on September 19, 2022, 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 67 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 Francesca Filippone, Texas State University, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.