ISS017-E-019616 (16 Oct. 2008) --- A dust storm in Turkmenistan, Central Asia is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 17 crewmember on the International Space Station. This west-looking view, taken with a short focal length lens from the station, shows a wide swath of central Asia--from Afghanistan, along the length of Turkmenistan to the Caspian Sea. Winds blowing down the largest river valley in the region, the Amudarya, were strong enough to raise a large dust storm. Dust appears as a light brown mass extending into the center of the image from the lower right. Diffuse dust from prior windy weather appears over much of the area making a regional haze that clouds much of the landscape detail. The haze partly obscures the irrigated agriculture in Turkmenistan and entirely obscures the Caspian Sea. Numerous rivers rise in the Hindu Kush mountain complex (lower left). The Band-i Amir River is a major tributary of the main regional river, the Amudarya, which it reaches via a deep canyon. The Amudarya River was the major historical contributor of water to the Aral Sea, but today extensive diversion of river water for agricultural purposes has lead to extensive exposure and desiccation of the sea bed. The exposed sea bed is a major source of saline dusts contaminated with agricultural chemicals that pose a significant environmental hazard to central Asia. To a lesser extent, dusts are also mobilized from sediments along the Amudarya river channel. The Paropamisus Range and the Amudarya (also known as the Oxus River) are mentioned in histories of Alexander the Great's famous military expedition from Greece to India. His horsemen made a fast side excursion from near the Caspian Sea (top right) as far as the Amudarya (lower right).