Toquepala Copper Mine, Southern Peru
Astronaut photograph ISS007-E-15222 was taken from the International Space Station on September 22, 2003 with a Kodak DCS760 digital camera equipped with an 400mm lens. Image content was provided by M. Justin Wlkinson (Lockheed Martin / Earth Observations Laboratory, Johnson Space Center). The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.
The rugged, mineral-rich Andes support some of the world’s biggest mines (gold, silver, copper, and more). This image looks down the bull’s-eye of Peru’s Toquepala copper mine, a steep sided and stepped open-pit mine. Mid-afternoon sunlight on the arid slopes of the central Andes mountains provides an accent to the mine contours. At the surface the open pit is 2.5 kilometers across, and it descends more than 700 meters into the earth. A dark line on the wall of the pit is the main access road to the bottom. Spoil dumps of material mined from the pit are arranged in tiers along the northwest lip of the pit. Numerous angular leaching fields appear lower right, and the railroad to the coast is a line that exits the image center left. The railroad was built to export Toquepala’s copper and connects the coastal port of Ilo, 95 kilometers to the southwest.
This image originally appeared on the Earth Observatory. Click here to view the full, original record.