Earth observations taken during STS-81 mission
STS081-715-004 (12-22 Jan. 1997) --- As photographed with a 70mm camera aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, this scene features the Volga River and Volgograd under snow. Contrast in brightness shows up many features in this near-vertical view of the great bend of the Volga River's dark, open strip of water, center. The Volga flows south into the view from top right, then southeast from the center to the bottom. Volgograd appears as the gray zone along the left (west) side of the open water. Presumably the ice-free part of the river opposite Volgograd relates to the slightly warmer water which is spilled from prominent, ice-covered Lake Volgograd (top right). The wide patterns of swirls, center to lower right, are numerous meander bends on the Volga's floodplain (up to 20 miles wide), highlighted by snow. The main course of the Volga is once again ice covered in this floodplain belt. The Volga-Don Canal can be seen leaving the river just south of the bend, exiting the view center left. This canal, with others in the Moscow region, allows barge traffic to move through the Russian heartland, from the Black Sea to the Baltic at Leningrad. The long parallel lines in threes and fours are lines of trees used as wind breaks. They stretch across Russia for hundreds of miles.