This scene in northern Hunan Province, China, shows the confluence of the Yuan and Xiang Rivers. The Yuan flows eastward (from the bottom of the scene to the top) while the Xiang flows northward (from the upper right to the upper left). The body of water in the right portion of this photograph (Lake Dongting) was formed at the confluence of these two rivers. Variations in the color of the lake are due to variations in the amount of sediment in the water and the view angle.
The combined flow from the Yuan and Xiang Rivers joins the mighty Yangtze River a few kilometers downstream from this scene (toward the upper right). The dark areas in the left portion of this photograph are most likely irrigated rice paddies. Various linear irrigation canals carry water to this agriculture. Historically the land surrounding these rivers has been flooded during periods of very high rainfall. The small lake in the lower left of the scene is Datong Lake.
October 1989, image STS-34-78-31.