Skip Navigation

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

  • Virtual Nebraska Logo

Virtual Nebraska

Image Archive

Space Shuttle Photography

Sand Hills II

This image was acquired by the Space Shuttle Challenger, at an altitude of 218 nautical miles, during a mission that lasted from October 5, to October 13, 1984. North is at the right and just above center. Dominating this image are the numerous dunes of the expansive Nebraska Sand Hills. Given the orientation of the image, the dunes actually lay in a line that is more northeast to southwest. These dunes are part of the one of the worlds' largest stabilized dunefields. The numerous small dark features are predominantly freshwater lakes, although there are a few alkaline lakes too. The dominant river that can be seen beginning near the top of the image and running down to the right is the Niobrara River. Immediately below the Niobrara is the Snake River. Little if no vegetation can be seen in the image (even around the freshwater lakes) because of the lateness of the year. Most, if not all, crops in Nebraska have been harvested and most the naturally occurring plant life has died back for the year.