November 27, 2013
(18 Nov. 2012) --- Agricultural fields under snow in easternmost China are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station. This photograph highlights many hundreds of rectangular fields on either side of a 36-kilometer stretch of the braided Songhua River (right). Some fields are easier to see than others due to the winter snow cover. The Songhua joins with the Amur R. about 40 kilometers downstream, at the border with Russia's Far East. Numerous villages also appear as small gray polygons. Broad floodplains can be recognized on both sides of the river, occupied by fewer fields by almost no villages. The town of Suibing stands out as a larger gray patch on the banks of the river. A significant 300-meter-high hill south of the river throws midmorning shadows (left). The region is one of the most heavily cultivated in northeastern China with corn, soybeans, and sorghum being major crops. The areas of varying whiteness of the snow cover may correlate with zones of different crops and forest cover (for example, on the hill in the center part of the image). The degree to which fallow fields are cleared of vegetation may also affect the apparent snow brightness.