The answer we had in mind for our November puzzler was fog in Argentina’s, Lake District. The exact coordinates were -40° 24′ 50.47″, -71° 22′ 59.14.” We had a number of players who came quite close — including Stuart Grice, and David P , and Michael Osborne — but no one got the exact coordinates, province, or district. The November puzzler, in fact, was our first puzzler that didn’t get solved down to the GPS coordinates within a few minutes or hours of posting.
I won’t deny that we were initially pleased that we had stumped some of the remote sensing pros who play the puzzler. But after the euphoria wore off, we found ourselves wondering: is it unfair to pick an obscure patch of mountains or sea and expect people to find it?
This latest puzzler got a few of us at the Earth Observatory thinking: what constitutes a correct answer, particularly when an image doesn’t show a discrete, obvious occurrence or place like the Çöllolar mine collapse or the Russian city of Dudinka? We thought it over and came up with these tips.
1) Being specific helps. Providing us with exact coordinates doesn’t hurt — in fact, it helps a lot. We will always recognize the first player who sends us the correct coordinates.
2) But this is an open-ended puzzler. We’re just as interested in having you teach us something interesting about a particular feature — a certain rock formation, cloud type, or whatever — as we are in simply getting inundated with coordinates. In fact, going forward, we’re going to recognize at least one puzzler player who goes beyond simply giving us the coordinates. This also mean you can continue posting answers even after somebody has guessed the coordinates.
3) Have fun. We take our science and remote sensing seriously, but one of the reasons we started the puzzler was to simply share the wonder and joy of looking at this planet that we’re lucky to call home. We wanted to give you the opportunity to have as much fun learning and writing about the Earth as we do. Don’t be shy about teaching us and your fellow readers something new and unexpected. Tell us about the adventures you’ve had traveling to a location. Maybe even tell a joke or share an interesting video. We’re not above awarding “style” points.
4) Post your answers on the blog. When we started the puzzler, we thought it would work to have players post their comments on facebook, twitter, google+, and the various other social media feeds. But after receiving hundreds of comments on disparate sites, we’ve learned there are simply too many for us to monitor (while trying to do our day jobs). You’re welcome to react and discuss puzzler images on the various NASA social media feeds, but from now on we will only select winners from the comments posted on the Earth Matters blog.