White River, South Dakota

White River, South Dakota
  • Credit:

    Astronaut photograph ISS048-E-71652 was acquired on September 3, 2016, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 500 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 48 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab 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. Caption by Justin Wilkinson, Texas State University, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station focused a camera on the White River where it pours milky-colored water into the blue-green of Lake Francis Case. The White River’s name—Makhízita wakpá, or “White Dirt River” in the Lakota language—derives from the white sediment it carries from erosion and weathering of rocks and soils upstream, especially limestone and volcanic ash from sources near South Dakota’s Badlands. (The white rocks exposed in the Badlands are visible in this photograph from the early days of the ISS.)

Lake Francis Case is an artificial reservoir on the Missouri River, and it fills the entire width of the Missouri River valley, marked by low but steep bluffs that line both shores. For scale, the bridge and causeway where Interstate Highway 90 crosses the reservoir (at the town of Chamberlain) is a mile long (1.6 kilometers). The town is the local commercial center for the many farms that surround Red Lake (top left).

Images & Animations


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  • Data Date:

    September 3, 2016
  • Visualization Date:

    October 6, 2017
  • Sensor(s):

    ISS - Digital Camera
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration