Archive for the ‘EO’s Satellite Puzzler’ Category

September Puzzler

September 29th, 2014 by Adam Voiland

SeptPuzzler_2014

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The September 2014 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!

Puzzling Evidence

September 2nd, 2014 by Mike Carlowicz

The answer to the August puzzler — Nagoya and the south-central coast of Japan — was puzzling even to Earth Observatory staff.

iss040e98889

When we first posted the image on August 26, even we did not know what we were looking at. We had asked our colleagues at the Crew Earth Observations (CEO) office at NASA Johnson Space Center to give us an image that would stump our readers and would help us talk about a new citizen science project to identify the locations shown in nighttime images. They gave us an image that no one here immediately recognized.

In the process of presenting the answer last Friday (image below), we unwittingly demonstrated a quality-control portion of that ID program.

10649932_10152691491317139_198184904108260460_n

As you can see, we correctly labeled Nagoya, and then labeled the two cities on the left as Osaka and Wakayama. But as several readers from Japan pointed out, Osaka and Wakayama are farther west, and Kyoto also appears in the scene. Though we had consulted two different sources, maps of Earth at night are still pretty raw and the human eye can be tricked when looking at an unfamiliar landscape.

One of the protocols of the Cities at Night program is to ensure that every image is classified by multiple individuals working separately. It took several NASA staff and several readers to figure out the correct locations in this image. One of the goals of the citizen-science project is to figure out the optimal number of people needed to correctly classify an image. We didn’t intend to be a case study, but that’s what just happened.

Congratulations to Bruce Boucek, a data librarian at Brown University, for being the first reader to correctly identify Nagoya and the Chita peninsula of Japan. We asked him how he figured out the location, and he wrote: “I’ve been a map fanatic since I was a kid…When I was an undergrad, I had a particular interest in Japanese geography and as a PhD student I spent years working with remote sensing and satellite imagery. My initial hunch was that it was the eastern coast of Japan, but it didn’t look like Tokyo. I guessed that it was the next bay south and verified my hunch by looking at the NASA earth at night imagery. The clincher was the airports which have a significantly higher brightness signature.”

Three other readers — James Titmas, Jyo Sano, and Yumiko Stettler — also correctly identified the Nagoya area. Thanks also to Justin Wilkinson, Will Stefanov, and the CEO unit at NASA Johnson, a team that has to catalog and identify the thousands of images that come down from the International Space Station every year.

August Puzzler

August 26th, 2014 by Mike Carlowicz

puzzler-Aug2014

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The August 2014 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.

 

UPDATE (September 4) – The answer to this puzzler was the Image of the Day on August 31. We also posted a blog entry about the challenges in solving this puzzler.

July Puzzler

July 21st, 2014 by Adam Voiland

JulyPuzzler

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The July 2014 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.

June Puzzler Answer: Salar de Arizaro

July 3rd, 2014 by Adam Voiland

arizaro_ali_2013097

Congratulations to Joe Clark for being the first to solve our June puzzler. The answer was the Salar de Arizaro in Argentina’s Salta province. Though once bathed in water, the landscape is now bone dry due to evaporation, baking sunlight, and fierce winds. Read more about it in the image of the day we published on June 28, 2014.  Also, check out this spectacular shot of the Cono de Arita  (a distinctive conical hill sculpted from sandstone) from Ben Stubbs.

cono-de-arita

 

May Puzzler Answer: Manning Islands

May 27th, 2014 by Adam Voiland

foxebasin_ali_2012208

We do have a few Trekkies on staff, but we didn’t actually have a Star Trek communicator in mind when we selected the May Puzzler. Nor were we trying to puzzle you by showing something from under a microscope. However, we did intend for the May puzzler to be tough because last month it was solved in a matter of minutes.

With that in mind, we choose an area that looks quite different on Google Maps than it does to NASA satellites. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that Google Maps imagery can be spotty in some areas, particularly in the high latitudes and over the oceans. For instance, compare how Nunavut’s Manning Islandsthe answer to the puzzlerlook on Google Maps (below) compared to the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on July 26, 2012 (above).

Manningislandsgoogle

Despite the hundreds of answers we received, nobody noticed that the Manning Islands were hidden away amidst all the sea ice. However, a few readers came close. On Facebook, Owen Anfinson hypothesized that the image showed pack ice in the Arctic during the summer, even pointing out that it was most likely sea ice near land because of all the sediment-covered ice.  Meanwhile, Laura Yeo guessed that the image showed “rapid ice melt in the Northwest Passage in the summer of 2012.”  Nice work, Owen and Laura.  For more more details about the Manning Islands, read the Image of the Day we published on May 23, 2014.

For some background about the satellite imagery on Google Earth, try this post from the Google Earth Blog. For more details about ALI, see the feature story we published in 2010. As a bonus for blog readers, you’ll find a broader view of Foxe Basin as seen by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on August 1, 2002, below.

foxebasin_tmo_2002213

 

May Puzzler

May 19th, 2014 by Adam Voiland

puzzler_may2014

Every month we offer a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The April 2014 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what the image shows, what part of the world we are looking at, when the image was acquired, 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 few days to give others a chance to play.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved many 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.

April Puzzler Answer: Yosemite’s Granite

April 25th, 2014 by Adam Voiland

yosemite_oli_2013236
Congratulations to Earth Matters reader Mike G. for being the first to solve our April Puzzler! As Mike pointed out, this image shows granite outcrops in Yosemite National Park. Over on Facebook, Cooper Girard was the first to get the location; he also sagely noted that Yosemite’s landscape is the product of a granitic pluton being uplifted by tectonic processes and then sculpted by glacial ice.  Read our April 26, 2014, Image of the Day for more details about the image, which was captured by the Landsat 8 satellite. After you’ve looked over the satellite image, check out this gallery of historical photography from U.S. Geological Survey geologist Francois Matthes showing many granite outcrops in the park.  I’ve included a few of my favorite shots of Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, Cascade Cliffs, and Mount Starr King below, but there are many more to see. At the very bottom of this post, you can also watch a nice video featuring geologists explaining how the granite formed.

nevadafalls
Yosemite National Park, California. Giant Stairway from Glacier Point. In the center is Nevada Fall, which leaps from the upper step, flanked by Liberty Cap. Below is Vernal Fall, which leaps from the lower step. On the far side of Little Yosemite Valley, which is behind Liberty Cap, are the water-streaked Cascade Cliffs, and beyond are the peaks of the High Sierra mantled with snow. At the left is Mount Florence. At the right is Mount Clark. Photo by A.C. Pillsbury, circa 1914. Plate 10, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 160.
libertycap
Yosemite National Park, California. Front of Liberty Cap and Mount Broderick. Their sheer, hackly fronts were subjected to the quarrying action of the Merced Glacier. The V-shaped cleft between them was gouged out along a narrow zone of shattered rock. Circa 1914. Plate 44-B, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 160.
mountstarrking
Yosemite National Park, California. End of an exfoliating spur on the west side of the Starr King group. This spur was not overtopped by the earlier ice. It owes its smoothly rounded form wholly to exfoliation. Circa 1913.
cascadecliffs
Yosemite National Park, California. Little Yosemite Valley. Through this broad antechamber the Merced River approaches the main valley. On the right are the Cascade Cliffs streaked by innumerable temporary cascades; on the left is Sugar Loaf (Bunnell Point). Circa 1914. Plate 4-A, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 160.

April Puzzler

April 21st, 2014 by Adam Voiland

aprilpuzzler2014

Every month we offer a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The April 2014 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what the image shows, what part of the world we are looking at, when the image was acquired, 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 few days to give others a chance to play.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved many 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.

March Puzzler Answer: Nalabana Bird Sanctuary

March 31st, 2014 by Adam Voiland

nalabana

I thought the March Puzzler would be an easy one, but it turned out to be one of the more difficult we’ve posted. As explained in our March 29, 2014, Image of the Day, the image shows Nalabana Bird Sanctuary in India’s Chilika Lake. Despite more than 50 guesses on Earth Matters and 500 on Facebook, nobody came up with the exact location. However, many readers (including Steve Martin and Wendy Spiteri) did recognize the shrimp farms or that it was somewhere in India.

I kept the caption to a  few paragraphs, but there’s a lot more that could be written about Chilika Lake. It’s a beautiful and fascinating place that faces environmental, economic, and political challenges that are as complicated as anywhere in the world. In 2002, for instance, authorities dredged a new connection with the Bay of Bengal after silt narrowed the existing mouth and made it more difficult for salty water to enter the lake. While the new mouth increased salinity levels, it did little to resolve the pitched debate between shrimp farmers and traditional fishing communities that has simmered for years. In 1996, the Supreme Court of India banned aquaculture within 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) of Chilika Lake because of environmental concerns, yet enclosures known as “gheries” (which are even visible to satellites…see page 50 of this Powerpoint) remain widespread. You can read more about the ongoing debate about aquaculture in Chilika Lake from Infochange, Economic Times, Radio Netherlands, and the Times of India.

Flickr user Adita Pany took the photograph of flamingos at Nalabana shown above in 2007. The QuickBird satellite caught a glimpse of a stand of flamingos near Nalabana in 2005.

chilikalake_ali_2013348