Archive for the ‘EO’s Satellite Puzzler’ Category

January Puzzler Answer: Palau’s Coral Reefs

February 18th, 2016 by Adam Voiland

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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.

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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

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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!

Update: The answer is posted here. The winners and more details are highlighted here.

December Puzzler: The Scrabble/Words with Friends Edition

December 24th, 2015 by Mike Carlowicz
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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

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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

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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!

October Puzzler Answer: Salt Glaciers in Xinjiang

November 6th, 2015 by Adam Voiland

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Congratulations to Shadab Raza, a geologist with Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited, for being the first reader to decipher the location of our October Puzzler, Xinjiang in western China. Jonathan Aul followed up later in the day with the exact coordinates. “Roughly 41.6 N, 80.7 E, approximately 10-15 km south of Bozidunxiang, Wensu, Aksu, Xinjiang Province, China.”

In researching the area, I become most interested in the distinctive salt glaciers, though Raza pointed out something that I completely missed: there appears to be a coal mine just to the west of one of the salt glaciers. I am not sure if it is the same mine shown in our image, but Raza also noted that an Aksu coal mine has been in the news recently.

If you are interested in learning more about salt glaciers, read our October 25 Image of the Day and click through the references for more information. University of Leeds geologist Alex Webb was kind enough to share several photographs of the salt glaciers that he took during a research trip. I have posted a few of them below with his commentary.

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Walking around on a the Awate salt glacier. Yellow bits in the foreground are gypsum concentrations. Courtesy of Alex Webb (University of Leeds).

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Salt flow at the surface is largely controlled by dissolution creep, aided by rain water. Here, some patches of crystalline salt from the spout (still dislocation creep) remain within a largely reworked salt layer. Photo courtesy of Alex Webb (University of Leeds).

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Salt extraction via water. They blast the salt glacier with water from hoses, and let that water (now enriched in salt) flow down into flat pools. In the pools, the water evaporates and relatively pristine salt is left behind for collection. Photograph courtesy of Alex Webb (University of Leeds).

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Salt evaporation ponds. Photo courtesy of Alex Webb (University of Leeds).

October Puzzler

October 20th, 2015 by Adam Voiland

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

September Puzzler

September 22nd, 2015 by Kathryn Hansen

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

August Puzzler Answer: Bloom in the Baltic Sea

August 26th, 2015 by Kathryn Hansen

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When I first saw the image for the August puzzler, I was struck by its beauty. The blue-green swirls look like they could be the brush strokes of an impressionist painting. Instead, this false-color scene was acquired by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8.

Without any land visible in the scene, I thought it would be at least a day or two before receiving a correct guess. I was wrong. Congratulations to Helen Macintyre who was the first to correctly post a correct answer to the blog on August 18, just 94 minutes after the puzzler was posted.

Macintyre wrote, “Initially I thought hurricane, but the strands in the upper left seem too sharp and thin. I think this is an algal bloom swirling in ocean currents. The line near the top I think is a large ocean liner cutting through this, leaving a darker colored wake.”

Indeed, the scene shows a phytoplankton bloom. This particular bloom contains cyanobacteria—an ancient type of marine bacteria that, like other phytoplankton, capture and store solar energy through photosynthesis.

Later that same day, Kari Nöjd posted a comment and became the first to correctly guess the phenomenon and its location. In fact, Nöjd was the only participant to correctly place this bloom in the Baltic Sea. Excellent work!

Nöjd wrote, “My guess is that this picture shows sea surface where algae is blooming. The line is from the boat, which is driving through the sea surface. Picture could have been taken from the Baltic Sea where has been big algae blooming fields forming for the past month … Unfortunately this is also effect of a human behavior. Nutrients from fields and waste waters increase the algae blooming.”

According to NASA oceanographer Norman Kuring, major cyanobacteria blooms like this one appear in the Baltic Sea nearly every summer, “and they always look like this in the satellite data.” Physical measurements from an expert in the field, however, were required to confirm that the bloom was cyanobacteria.

As for the line cutting through the scene? Yes, that’s the result of a ship cruising through the bloom. There are other ships too, as well as an airplane, visible in the zoomed-out version posted in our August 23, 2015, Image of the Day.

On Facebook, Scot Hoffman was the first to guess algae bloom. In fact, a lot of comments on Facebook noted that the scene was a bloom, but the location remained elusive. Many thought it might be Lake Erie—a good guess because blooms are visible during the summer in that lake as well.

August Puzzler

August 18th, 2015 by Kathryn Hansen

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