China’s Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces, near the Xichang Satellite Launch Center
This image shows land near the border of China’s Sichuan (above) and Yunnan (below) provinces.
Sichuan is a province in western China with its capital in Chengdu. The area lies in the Sichuan basin and is surrounded by the Himalayas to the West, the Qinling range to the North, and the mountainous areas of Yunnan to the south.
The climate in the Sichuan Basin is highly variable. The western areas, like those visible here, have a mountainous climate characterized by very cold winters and mild summers, with plentiful sunshine.
Yunnan, on the other hand, is the most southwestern province in China. The terrain is largely mountainous, especially in the north and west. A series of high mountain chains spreads across the province.
Yunnan has a generally mild climate with pleasant and fair weather because of the province’s location on south-facing mountain slopes, receiving the influence of both the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and although the growing period is long, there is little arable land.
Of note in this region is the Xichang Satellite Launch Center (XSLC), north of the reddish patch on the right, a Chinese space vehicle launch facility (spaceport) approximately 64 km northwest of Xichang City.
The facility became operational in 1984 and is primarily used to launch powerful thrust rockets and geostationary communications and weather satellites. It is notable as the site of Sino-European space cooperation, with the launch of the first of two Double Star scientific satellites in December 2003.