August 1, 2011
(For orientation purposes, north is toward the top left corner). Green colors of the forests of the Cascade Mountains dominate this view, photographed from the Earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Atlantis. Browner colors (top right) are the semiarid plains of the Columbia Basin, in the rain shadow of the Cascades. The highest peaks in this part of the Cascades are four volcanoes. The amount of snow is a good indication of their altitude. The highest is Mt. Rainier (14,410 feet) with the greatest amount of white snow (top left). Seattle lies immediately downslope (top left margin). Mt. Adams (12,276) lies due south in the middle of the view. Mt. Hood (11,235 feet) in the lower right corner, lies south of the great gorge of the Columbia River (which crosses the lower right and then the lower left corners of the view). The river flows broadly west (left) to the Pacific Ocean (out of the picture left). Mt. St Helens (8,364 feet), the snow-free brown patch lower left, was too low to retain snow after the recent fall. According to geologists studying the STS-112 photography, even from the altitude of the Space Shuttle, the intact south half of the cone can be discerned. The geologists point out that the famous blast of 1980 not only destroyed the north side of the cone but blew down the green forest for many square miles on the north side (brown signature).
Topics: Cascade Volcanoes, Cascade Range, Stratovolcanoes, Hospitality Recreation, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, Cascades, Snow, Columbia River, Space Shuttle