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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 Qogir Feng (8,611 meters), which appears at the far upper left in this view of the northwestern Karakoram Range. Also called K2 or Mt. Godwin Austen, the mountain is the second highest peak in the world. The Tarim sedimentary basin borders the range on the north and the Lesser Himalayas on the south. Melt waters from vast glaciers, such as those south and east of K2, feed agriculture in the valleys (dark green) and contribute significantly to the regional fresh-water supply. The Karakoram Range lies along the southern edge of the Eurasian tectonic plate and is made up of ancient sedimentary rocks (more than 390 million years old, according to geologists studying the shuttle imagery). Those strata were folded and thrust-faulted, and granite masses were intruded, say the geologists, when the Indo-Pakistan plate collided with Eurasia, beginning more than 100 million years ago.

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