The Amu Darya (“darya” means river) and a dense series of irrigation ditches adjacent to it are visible here due to the reflection of sunlight off the surface of the water. The river flows to the northwest from the bottom of this photograph to the top, and provides life-giving water to crops on the Amu Darya Delta (dark green). While this river originates hundreds of kilometers to the southeast in the more temperate Pamir Mountains, it flows across the arid Turanian plain and eventually deposits into the Aral Sea, an inland drainage basin (slide #19). Before entering the Aral Sea it forms a vast delta, the beginning of which dominates this image. Part of the brown Turanian plain can be seen in the lower part of this scene flanking the delta. The primary crop produced on the Amu Darya Delta is cotton, one of the most water-intensive crops.
September 1992, image STS-47-88-98.