Earth observations of the Andes Mountains taken during the STS-97 mission
STS097-715-061 (10 December 2000) This view over the Central Andes Mountains in Argentina and Chile was taken on December 10, 2000 by one of the astronauts aboard the Earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Endeavour. Extending 5500 miles (8850 kilometers) along the western coast of South America from northern Colombia to Cape Horn in southern Chile, the Andes are the longest mountain range, above sea level, and the second highest range in the world. According to NASA scientists studying the STS-97 photo collection, this immense system came into existence nearly 70 million years ago. With numerous active volcanoes and a slow uplift, the building of the Andes Mountains continues today rising four inches (10 centimeters) per century, the scientists say. In this north-looking view, snow covers the higher peaks of the range, some of which rise to over 20000 feet (6100 meters) above sea level. Along the left or western portion of the view, clouds can be seen along coastal areas of Chile. In the bottom left quadrant of the scene, the blue waters of the Paloma Reservoir, a recreational lake, are visible. The folded Tontal Range (bottom center) and the Valle Fertil Range (upper right quadrant and partially cloud covered) of western Argentina can be seen. The rocks of these ranges, the scientists point out, are ancient compared to the younger volcanic peaks and ranges of the Andes. The city of San Juan, Argentina is visible on the eastern (right) base of the Tontal Range in the lower right quadrant of the view.