Dunes Along the Yellow River

Dunes Along the Yellow River

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of the Yellow River (Huang He) floodplain on June 9, 2022. In this part of the floodplain, near the cities of Baotou and Bayannur in northern China, green crops flank the river on productive agricultural land.

An active dune field—comprised of river sand from the Yellow River—is forming next to the floodplain. It displays a ribbed pattern, with crescentic dunes at right angles to winds blowing from the west.

Unsuitable for agriculture, the dunes instead host hundreds of solar panels found within rectangular solar farms. Near the center of the image, a smaller solar farm adjoins a nearby petrochemical installation.

The river itself appears muddy and brown due to the water’s high sediment load. A series of small streams cuts through the dune field at right angles before crossing the floodplain and joining the Yellow River as tributaries. With a length of 5,460 kilometers (3,390 miles), the Yellow River is China’s second longest river.

The Yellow River floodplain also provides a transport access route for major highways and railroads through this part of Inner Mongolia.

Astronaut photograph ISS067-E-122535 was acquired on June 9, 2022, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 400 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 members 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 Justin Wilkinson, Texas State University, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.