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July 2005
Coveted Caucasus
Use the controls to zoom in and move around the image. Use the navigator box on the bottom left of the image as a shortcut. Image courtesy of Jesse Allen, NASA/GSFC Earth Observatory
Since the days of Genghis Khan, the Caucasus Mountains have been highly prized. Warriors have searched for safe haven within the folds of its peaks. Traders have vied for access to its ports along the Black and Caspian Seas. It is a turbulent region where the countries along its borders carry generations of battle scars, perhaps none more than Chechnya.

In this composite satellite image, the Caucasus forms a barricade between southern Russia to the north and Georgia and Azerbaijan to the south. At its center, a series of summits rising more than 16,000 feet (5,000 meters) stretch between extinct volcanic Mount Elbrus and Mount Kazbek.

Volcanism fuels hot springs that steam in the alpine air. Snow disappears on the lower slopes in July and returns in October. Winter is permanent on Caucasus summits, and glaciers cover peaks and steep-walled cirques, blanketing the bloodstained region with a sense of pure white peace.

How'd They Do That?

This image shows a natural color view centered on the Caucasus Mountains. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument onboard NASA's Terra satellite observed the land cover on June 13, 2001. The image was then draped over a terrain map generated from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) and extruded to show the elevation detail. Terrain has been exaggerated by 50 percent for dramatic effect.

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