Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 6:41 EDT
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June 27, 2011
One of the STS-106 crew members on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis used a handheld 70mm camera to photograph this image of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. According to geologists that have been studying aerial and space-to-Earth photos, the Aral Sea has diminished dramatically since the 1950's. By 1990, the surface area of the Aral had decreased by more than 50 percent, and the salinity had tripled since 1960, when the sea covered about 68,000 square kilometers. The most noticeable changes observed from orbit between January, 1998 and September, 2000 have been the expansion of the large north-trending island, the decrease in total water area, and the isolation of the smaller northern water body.