The mighty river featured in this image is called the Yarlung Tsangpo as
it courses through the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, and is then
known as the Dikrong during its passage through India's state of Arunachal
Pradesh. Further downstream, the river widens and becomes the Brahmaputra.
Its waters eventually empty to the Bay of Bengal.
The answers to this quiz appear in blue below each question.
1. Within the image area, the river flows across an international boundary
into an area where over 100 species of orchids grow.
The verdant green hues present in the lower right image corner are
characteristic of Arunachal's lush vegetation, which includes over
400 types of orchid.
2. The river's name in a particular language means "pacifier" in English.
The translation of the name "Tsangpo" is "purifier". Although the river
has at least three names from as many languages, there is no indication
that the river's name means "pacifier" in any language.
3. Sedimentary rocks containing mineral grains that record changes in the
orientation of Earth's magnetic field have been found north of the river.
Sandstone containing grains of magnetic minerals that record the alternating
pattern of the Earth's magnetic field have been found north of the river, near
the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.
4. At least one expert kayaker has perished attempting to navigate a deep
gorge of the river.
A Japanese expedition attempted to navigate the the river in 1993, but lost
one member of their team in the gorge near Namche Barwa peak, and the
American team sponsored by the National Geographic Society in 1998 had
to turn back after their most experienced kayaker was lost along the same
stretch of the river.
5. The two highest named peaks within the image area are situated on
opposite sides of the river; each has a maximum elevation of nearly 4000
The Yarlung Tsangpo is the highest major river in the world, with an average
elevation of about 4000 meters. At least two peaks within the image area rise
to over 7000 meters: Namche Barwa at 7756 meters and Gyala Peri at 7150
6. The description of a mythical place in a 1930's British novel is
thought by some explorers to have been inspired by a location on this
The myth of Shangri-la, as described in James Hilton's 1933 novel "Lost Horizons",
is believed by a number of explorers to have been geographically inspired by the
deepest gorges and waterfalls of the Tsangpo.
7. Scientists believe that 100 million years ago the region through which
the river flows was farther from the equator than it is today.
One hundred million years ago, the Indian subcontinent is thought to have been
located thousands of kilometers closer to the equator. Geological evidence points
to the collision of the subcontinent with Asia about 40-50 million years ago. The
impact slowed the northward movement and led to the formation of the Himalayas.
8. In the 1920's, an expedition along the river searched for and
successfully encountered a legendary 30-meter-high waterfall.
A 30-meter (100-foot) waterfall had been reported by Kintup, an illiterate tailor from
Sikkim who explored the Tsangpo for several years in the 1880's. However, the
expedition led by Frank Kingdon-Ward in the 1920's discovered only a 21-meter
(70-foot) waterfall (Rainbow Falls). The legendary 30-meter falls was not
re-discovered until 1998.
MISR was built and is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, CA, for NASA's Office of Earth Science, Washington, DC. The
Terra satellite is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center,
Greenbelt, MD. JPL is a division of the California Institute of