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Spaceflier looks down on high peaks

Yuri Malenchenko / NASA via Twitpic

This photograph, taken on Nov. 9 from the International Space Station, shows a rugged range of Asian peaks. Initially the mountains were identified as the Himalayas, with Mount Everest in the center, but since then experts on the region have said the picture actually shows a different mountain range.



Some of the highest mountains in the world were far below Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko when he took this picture a month ago from the International Space Station. Now Malenchenko has come back down to Earth, but the picture has been getting sky-high attention from the Twitterverse — in part because of a debate over what it shows.

Peter Caltner, a.k.a. @PC0101, put the picture into his Twitpic feed on Saturday, calling it an outer-space view of Mount Everest. NASA astronaut Ron Garan — a recent space station resident known on Twitter as @Astro_Ron — picked up on the pic with a tweet of his own. "I never got a good shot of Mt. Everest from space," he wrote. In a follow-up, Garan explained to The Atlantic's Rebecca J. Rosen why he missed out on that Everest snapshot.

Since then, folks who are familiar with the area have tweeted that the picture shows a different range of mountains. "This is ... Sasan Kangari — near India, Pakistan and Tibet border," Phalano reported.

"So, definitely not Everest," Kunda Dixit wrote back. "Whew. My reputation was on the line."

This picture isn't the only gem from Malenchenko: Caltner's Twitpic gallery features more of the cosmonaut's outer-space photos — including new nighttime views of St. Louis, Tokyo and the Sea of Brightness off the coast of South Korea. Check 'em out. And while you're at it, check out these other views of our planet from above. They're part of the Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which features a daily look at Earth from space, every day from now until Christmas:

Correction for 6:50 p.m. ET: I've updated the original version of this item with the "Is it Everest, or isn't it?" debate. The Atlantic updated its original item with a different picture of Everest, taken in 2004.


Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other science and space news coverage, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered via email. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.