Archive for the ‘EO’s Satellite Puzzler’ Category

April Puzzler

April 18th, 2016 by Kathryn Hansen

April_puzzler

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The April 2016 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what part of the world we are looking at, when the image was acquired, what the image shows, and why the scene is interesting.

How to answer. Your answer can be a few words or several paragraphs. (Try to keep it shorter than 200 words). You might simply tell us what part of the world an image shows. Or you can dig deeper and explain what satellite and instrument produced the image, what spectral bands were used to create it, or what is compelling about some obscure speck in the far corner of an image. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy, tell us about it.

The prize. We can’t offer prize money, but, we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Roughly one week after a puzzler image appears on this blog, we will post an annotated and captioned version as our Image of the Day. In the credits, we’ll acknowledge the person who was first to correctly ID the image. We’ll also recognize people who offer the most interesting tidbits of information about the geological, meteorological, or human processes that have played a role in molding the landscape. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for or attend an institution that you want us to recognize, please mention that as well.

Recent winners. If you’ve won the puzzler in the last few months or work in geospatial imaging, please sit on your hands for at least a day to give others a chance to play.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved some of our puzzlers after only a few minutes or hours. To give more people a chance to play, we may wait between 24-48 hours before posting the answers we receive in the comment thread.

Good luck!

australia_oli_2015294_web

This month we posed a special seasonal challenge: We asked you to join us for a remote-sensing-themed egg hunt by identifying colorful, oval-shaped lakes and ponds around the planet. Well, as one reader points out, we “asked for it.” Hueva identified a lake in Canada so egg-like that it actually goes by the name “Egg Lake.” And to top it off, Goose Lake is immediately to its north.

The traditional challenge—identify the feature in this satellite image and its location—sent some on a wild goose chase. That’s due, in part, to the fact that there’s certainly more than one way to form an egg-shaped lake. As Viacheslav Zgonnik noted:

“These places are seepages of natural molecular hydrogen (H2). We tested many of them on different continents. Check our the most recent article about Carolina bays – egg-like structures in North Carolina, USA.”

The March puzzler was also puzzling because this lake shape is not unusual—oval lakes show up all over the planet. Michael G commented on the blog:

“Located in northern Alaska, USA. There are hundreds of such lakes, they are increasing in size and number. They are thought to form as a result of climate change (warming) that is especially noticeable in the arctic. The shape of the lakes appear to all orient themselves in the direction of permafrost thawing but the dynamics of this are unknown. Recent theories includes slumping of the permafrost as is thaws through the entire thickness of the layer, instead of just the upper layer. The lakes are among the fastest growing lakes on record, increasing in a linear (hence egg shape) direction at about 3m a year, towards the northeast.”

Excellent guesses! This particular image, however, shows a series of saline lakes in Western Australia. Congratulations to David E. Ways and Owen Earley, who were the first to post correct guesses to the blog and to Facebook, respectively. Paulie also guessed correctly, adding that “this area is a “biodiversity hotspot, mixed in with established intensive agriculture.”

The false-color puzzler image was acquired on October 21, 2015, with the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. To see what the scene looks like in natural-color, and to learn more about these lakes and the reason behind their various colors, read our March 26, 2016, Image of the Day.

The identity of our puzzler has been revealed, but there’s still time to hunt eggs. Continue sending us the latitude and longitude of your favorite colorful, egg-shaped lake by submitting it as a comment on this blog post. We will include the most interesting lakes sent in by readers in a special image gallery that we will publish later this spring.

march_puzzler

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image and ask you to tell us what part of the world we are looking at, when the image was acquired, what the image shows, and why the scene is interesting.

However, this March we have a special challenge with a seasonal theme (at least in the Northern Hemisphere, where spring has sprung). Join us for a remote-sensing-themed egg hunt. And by “eggs,” we mean colorful, oval-shaped lakes and ponds somewhat like those pictured above.

The first part of the challenge is to guess the location of the lakes in the image above, just like we do with our puzzler images most months. The second part is to find other colorful egg-like lakes that you think we’ll like.

When you find a good candidate, send us a screenshot and the latitude and longitude of the lake by submitting it as a comment on this blog post. We will include the most interesting lakes sent in by readers in a special image gallery that we will publish later this spring.

Some other guidance and suggestions:

+Search tools. You can use any tools you like to search for colorful lakes. Google Maps, Worldview, Visible Earth, the Earth Observatory archives, and the Gateway to Astronaut Photography may be useful.

+Make sure your lakes are reasonably large. We’ll be using Landsat (30 meters per pixel) or MODIS (250 meters per pixel) data to make the final images. If you have to zoom all the way in on Goggle Maps to see your lake, you are viewing commercial satellite imagery that has a resolution of a few meters per pixels or less. Lakes should have diameters of at least a few hundred meters to show up well in Landsat imagery.

+The more unusual the color, the better. Submitting a lake with a “normal” color is fine, but it will have a smaller chance of making the cut for our final gallery.

+Earth, please. Our focus will be on lakes on Earth. You are more than welcome to share egg-like features you spot on other planets with us, but they won’t make our final gallery.

+It’s a #SpaceEggHunt. Tag your social media posts about this with #SpaceEggHunt. In addition to the blog, we’ll monitor that hashtag for submissions.

+Explain the color. Tell us why you think the lake has such an unusual color as part of your comment. While part of the goal here is to have fun and hunt for lake eggs to celebrate spring, the final gallery will delve more deeply into the science behind lake color and how that can be useful for scientists.

+The prize. We can’t offer prize money, but, we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Roughly one week after a puzzler image appears on this blog, we will post an annotated and captioned version as our Image of the Day. If you find makes the final gallery, your name will be mentioned.

 Good luck and happy hunting!

February Puzzler Answer: Deforestation in Argentina

March 20th, 2016 by Adam Voiland

argentina_oli_2015288

It took Gavin McMorrow a mere 30 minutes to solve our February puzzler. As he pointed out, the rectangular patterns were cleared forest areas in Argentina’s Salta province. (Learn more about the area in our February 27, 2016, Image of the Day). McMorrow even recognized this was an Operational Land Imager (OLI) image from Landsat 8. Nicely done, Gavin.

It turns out he is no newcomer to space geography quizzes. In fact, if you follow him on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll find McMorrow is actually somewhat of a space geography connoisseur. McMorrow participated regularly in the #SpaceGeo and #EarthArt quizzes that astronaut Scott Kelly organized while he was on the International Space Station.

He’s also been helping Center of Geographic Sciences geographer Dave MacLean (@DaveAtCOGS) catalog the locations of the photographs that astronauts on the station tweet out from orbit. In some cases, astronauts aren’t sure of the feature they just photographed, and it takes time for all the images to be archived in the official database.

To see what I mean, check out MacLean’s map of Scott Kelly’s Year in Space. You can even choose to see maps for just the tweets tagged as #SpaceGeo or #EarthArt. Also helpful, MacLean (and helpers like McMorrow) track down high-resolution versions of the photos when they can. In the tweet below, for instance, McMorrow is alerting astronaut Tim Peake that an image of snow-covered mountains that Peake tweeted was a shot of mountains in Glacier National Park.

And, oh yes, in his spare time, McMorrow is solving Planet Labs geo-detective quizzes.

For a guy who enjoys space geography this much, should I mention we have a job opening?

February Puzzler

February 24th, 2016 by Adam Voiland

puzzler_Feb2016

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The February 2016 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what part of the world we are looking at, when the image was acquired, what the image shows, and why the scene is interesting.

How to answer. Your answer can be a few words or several paragraphs. (Try to keep it shorter than 200 words). You might simply tell us what part of the world an image shows. Or you can dig deeper and explain what satellite and instrument produced the image, what spectral bands were used to create it, or what is compelling about some obscure speck in the far corner of an image. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy, tell us about it.

The prize. We can’t offer prize money, but, we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Roughly one week after a puzzler image appears on this blog, we will post an annotated and captioned version as our Image of the Day. In the credits, we’ll acknowledge the person who was first to correctly ID the image. We’ll also recognize people who offer the most interesting tidbits of information about the geological, meteorological, or human processes that have played a role in molding the landscape. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for or attend an institution that you want us to recognize, please mention that as well.

Recent winners. If you’ve won the puzzler in the last few months or work in geospatial imaging, please sit on your hands for at least a day to give others a chance to play.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved some of our puzzlers after only a few minutes or hours. To give more people a chance to play, we may wait between 24-48 hours before posting the answers we receive in the comment thread.

Good luck!

January Puzzler Answer: Palau’s Coral Reefs

February 18th, 2016 by Adam Voiland

palau_oli_2014080

Congratulations, Thomas Goldammer, for being the first to solve our January Puzzler. As Thomas noted, the image highlighted coral reefs immediately north of Palau’s Babeldaob island. Tyler Johnson chimed in the next day with some additional details and insight.

Though more than 100 people weighed in on Facebook, reefs in Palau never came up. Interestingly, several Facebook readers guessed that the image showed reefs in the Maldives. That, in turn, reminded me of an old but excellent story in our archives about the amazing atolls in the Maldives. The story does a nice job of explaining how atolls (such as the the North and South Malosmadulu Atolls shown below) get their remarkable shapes.

maldives_ast_22dec02

As our atoll article explains, the shapes of Maldavian atolls are affected not only by the birth and death of islands but also by the churning and currents of the ocean caused by the winds of passing monsoons. (Extraordinary, isn’t it? Maybe it is just me, but I find understanding how the land surfaces came to be both fascinating and humbling.)

Getting back to Palau, I also want to draw your attention to the video below. Compiled by the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, it shows mesmerizing aerial and underwater imagery of Palau’s reefs. In fact, the foundation recently completed an expedition to Palau to collect baseline data on the health of the reefs. Ground campaigns like this—combined with aerial and satellite campaigns from above—offer scientists a more  complete picture of the health of the world’s coral reefs than either might along. To learn more about a NASA-sponsored aerial survey of Palau’s coral reefs, see our January 31 Image of the Day.

January Puzzler

January 25th, 2016 by Adam Voiland

IDL TIFF file

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The January 2016 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what part of the world we are looking at, when the image was acquired, what the image shows, and why the scene is interesting.

How to answer. Your answer can be a few words or several paragraphs. (Try to keep it shorter than 200 words). You might simply tell us what part of the world an image shows. Or you can dig deeper and explain what satellite and instrument produced the image, what spectral bands were used to create it, or what is compelling about some obscure speck in the far corner of an image. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy, tell us about it.

The prize. We can’t offer prize money, but, we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Roughly one week after a puzzler image appears on this blog, we will post an annotated and captioned version as our Image of the Day. In the credits, we’ll acknowledge the person who was first to correctly ID the image. We’ll also recognize people who offer the most interesting tidbits of information about the geological, meteorological, or human processes that have played a role in molding the landscape. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for or attend an institution that you want us to recognize, please mention that as well.

Recent winners. If you’ve won the puzzler in the last few months or work in geospatial imaging, please sit on your hands for at least a day to give others a chance to play.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved some of our puzzlers after only a few minutes or hours. To give more people a chance to play, we may wait between 24-48 hours before posting the answers we receive in the comment thread.

Good luck!

December Puzzler: The Scrabble/Words with Friends Edition

December 24th, 2015 by Mike Carlowicz
2FAC3BA200000578-3378025-image-a-60_1451421811446

Images by NASA Earth Observatory. Mosaic by the Daily Mail.

Each month at the Earth Observatory, we publish a new satellite puzzler to challenge your remote sensing and image interpretation skills. But this December, a bit of mirth and mischief got into us. (“I could say ‘Elves,’ but it’s not elves really…”)

See, we have this great new image gallery — Reading the ABCs from Space — and between all of the letters and the festive holiday season, it got us to thinking about games. Then word games. Then ways to challenge and torment entertain our readers.

Your challenge this month is inspired by Scrabble or Words with Friends, depending on your age and your affinity for old-school versus electronic games. Over the next two weeks, we will publish seven satellite-observed letters as Images of the Day (IOTD). Your task is to keep track of those seven letters and to assemble them into words.

Recognition will be given to the reader who:

  • assembles the highest scoring Scrabble/Words with Friends word
  • assembles the highest scoring word with a connection to Earth science
  • assembles the most words with connection to Earth science

We all know you can find word-building tools on the Internet, but what fun would that be? Do it the old-fashioned way…with your brain and a writing tool.

Reminder: Our satellite gallery is here, but we are not using the full alphabet. Wait for the letters to be released as IOTDs between December 23 and January 3. To see which letters have been published as IOTDs check here. Submit your answers as comments on this blog post.

 

November Puzzler Answer: The Mackenzie River

December 11th, 2015 by Kathryn Hansen

greatslavelake_oli_2015133

The November 2015 puzzler turned out to perplex many of our readers. That’s no surprise; the scene shows less than 20 kilometers of Canada’s longest river—the Mackenzie.

The Mackenzie River flows for more than 4,000 kilometers, and drains a basin that spans one-fifth of Canada’s total land area. Each year, the Mackenzie delivers about 325 cubic kilometers of fresh water to the Arctic Ocean.

Clues to the image’s location show up as flecks of white, which are floating bits of ice. The ice came from the Great Slave Lake, east of this image, where the river gets its start. This image was acquired with the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 on May 13, 2015, around the beginning of the annual spring melt. A wider view of the area, including the lake, was featured as our Image of the Day on November 28, 2015.

Congratulations to Irene Marzolff, the first to post a correct answer to the blog. Not only did she deduce the correct location, she specified that it was acquired with the Landsat 8 satellite sometime during the melt season. On Facebook, Georg Pointner was the first to correctly name the river and note its location near Great Slave Lake.

Click here to see the river’s other extremity, at the Mackenzie River Delta. This is where the river empties into the Arctic Ocean via the Beaufort Sea.

November Puzzler

November 23rd, 2015 by Kathryn Hansen

puzzler_nov2015

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The November 2015 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what part of the world we are looking at, when the image was acquired, what the image shows, and why the scene is interesting.

How to answer. Your answer can be a few words or several paragraphs. (Try to keep it shorter than 200 words). You might simply tell us what part of the world an image shows. Or you can dig deeper and explain what satellite and instrument produced the image, what spectral bands were used to create it, or what is compelling about some obscure speck in the far corner of an image. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy, tell us about it.

The prize. We can’t offer prize money, but, we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Roughly one week after a puzzler image appears on this blog, we will post an annotated and captioned version as our Image of the Day. In the credits, we’ll acknowledge the person who was first to correctly ID the image. We’ll also recognize people who offer the most interesting tidbits of information about the geological, meteorological, or human processes that have played a role in molding the landscape. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for or attend an institution that you want us to recognize, please mention that as well.

Recent winners. If you’ve won the puzzler in the last few months or work in geospatial imaging, please sit on your hands for at least a day to give others a chance to play.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved some of our puzzlers after only a few minutes or hours. To give more people a chance to play, we may wait between 24-48 hours before posting the answers we receive in the comment thread.

Good luck!