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Bolivian Volcano Sunrise: Earth Image of the Week December 10, 2010
Astronaut photo of Bolivia's Nevado Sajama.
Several ancient volcanic craters are scattered around Nevado Sajama.
The oblique illumination of Earth’s surface features shortly after sunrise and before sunset casts shadows across the landscape that often make the terrain appear in far sharper detail than at midday.

Such is the case of Bolivia’s dormant Nevado Sajama volcano, seen in the image to the right at first light on October 30, 2010.

Astronaut Douglas H. Wheelock took the photograph from the International Space Station’s Capalo bay window less than a month before he returned to Earth.

While Wheelock was himself unsure of exactly what Andean mountain it was, careful comparison with Google Earth images reveal that it is Nevado Sajama, located in a large caldera encompassed by Bolivia’s Samaja National Park.

The summit of the snow-capped volcano is at 21,463 feet, located about 10-15 miles from the border with Chile. It is the highest peak in Bolivia.

The park is jointly administered by the country’s park service as well as the local indigenous people, the Aymara.

Federal law recognizes traditional rights, local value systems and social structure in determining how the country’s natural resources are protected or exploited. This makes nature conservation impossible without the will and support of the local population.

Due to the spectacular beauty of Nevado Sajama, the indigenous people protect and take pride in preserving the environment and encourage responsible tourism, including mountain climbing.

Image and commentary: NASA