Archive for the ‘EO’s Satellite Puzzler’ Category

December Puzzler

December 17th, 2012 by Adam Voiland

Every month, NASA Earth Observatory will offer up a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The seventh puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section below to tell us what part of the world we’re 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. (Just try to keep it shorter than 300-400 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 bands were used to create it, and what’s interesting about the geologic history of some obscure speck of color in the far corner of an image. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy about a scene, tell us about it.

The prize. We can’t offer prize money for being the first to respond or for digging up the most interesting kernels of information. But, we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Roughly one week after a “mystery image” appears on the 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 an image. We’ll also recognize people who offer the most interesting tidbits of information. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for 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, please sit on your hands for at least a few days to give others a chance to play.

You can read more about the origins of the satellite puzzler here. Good luck!

How Do You “Win” the Puzzler Exactly?

December 17th, 2012 by Adam Voiland

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.

Good luck!

November Puzzler

November 12th, 2012 by Adam Voiland

Every month, NASA Earth Observatory will offer up a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The sixth puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section below to tell us what part of the world we’re looking at, when the image was acquired, and what’s happening in the scene.

How to answer. Your answer can be a few words or several paragraphs. (Just try to keep it shorter than 300-400 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 bands were used to create it, and what’s interesting about the geologic history of some obscure speck of color in the far corner of an image. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy about a scene, tell us about it.

The prize. We can’t offer prize money for being the first to respond or for digging up the most interesting kernels of information. But, we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Roughly one week after a “mystery image” appears on the 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 an image. We’ll also recognize people who offer the most interesting tidbits of information. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for 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, please sit on your hands for at least a few days to give others a chance to play.

You can read more about the origins of the satellite puzzler here. Good luck!

October Puzzler Answer: Turkish Glaciers

October 12th, 2012 by Adam Voiland

Congratulations to Britton, Dakota Steve, Alev Akyildiz, and Eric Jeffrey for being the first readers to solve the October puzzler. We posted the image on Tuesday afternoon, and by Wednesday morning Britton had worked out that the location was Mount Uludoruk in the southeastern Taurus Mountains. Later on, Dakota Steve added that it must have been taken in the fall, Alex Akyildiz was the first to give the exact coordinates, and Eric Jeffrey added some interesting details about glacial recession.

Many thanks to Mehmet Akif Sarikaya of Fatih University for providing some of the information that went into the caption we published as our Image of the Day for October 13. Among other things, Sarikaya pointed us to a fascinating account that a British solider (Major F.R. Maunsell) read to members of the Royal Geographical Society after a trip to the region.  The account was published in August 1901 by the Geographical Journal.  In addition to Maunsell’s colorful writing, the article included the first known image of one of Uludoruk’s glaciers.

Here are a few excerpts from Maunsell’s description of the topography near the site of his photograph:

…A little south of the main ridge of Geliashin, and forming part of the group, are two masses of rock, one the Tura Dauil (David’s mountain), and facing it across a deep chasm-like valley, the other called Nakhira Shirka, both rising to about 11,000 feet. The north slopes of Geliashin and Suppa Durek are perhaps the grandest, as the ground falls away in a splendid succession of crags and precipices into the head of the valley of Des or Deezan, and the stream-level of the Great Zab, only 12 miles off, but 9270 feet lower. Below the crest a small glacier nestles under Geliashin on the north, giving rise to the Des stream, called in Turkish the Kar Su, or Snow water, and in Syriac, Mia Khwara, or White water…

…On all sides, except a narrow ridge on the south-east, are sheer precipices of several hundred feet, and after three attempts, in each of which I was brought up against lines of huge cliffs, I finally discovered that a steep path to the summit existed on the south-east side, but it was too late then to attempt it. The only guides procurable were very misleading, making any statement, if they thought it would please, and were very difficult to verify. The summit ridges swarm with ibex and moufflon, and many of the giant partridge were also seen. Judging from Galianu, the summit of Geliashin must be at least 1500 feet higher, or 13,500 feet above sea-level…

…From Geliashin a razor-edged ridge of limestone rock runs nearly due west for a few miles, and terminates in a very sharp-pointed peak known as the Suppa Durek, or Lady’s Finger (mentioned by Layard), a prominent landmark in the confused outline of crag and. pinnacle west of Geliashin. A col which gives access by a stair-like path from the Zab valley into Jelu district now intervenes to the west, beyond which runs a rugged watershed range of lesser elevation, but containing the sharp peak of Khisara, quite inaccessible except by the wild goats,and enclosing the rocky gorges of Kiyu and IUri draining to the Zab, and overlooking Jelu and Baz to the south.

October Puzzler

October 8th, 2012 by Adam Voiland

Every month, NASA Earth Observatory will offer up a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The fifth puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section below to tell us what part of the world we’re looking at, when the image was acquired, and what’s happening in the scene.

How to answer. Your answer can be a few words or several paragraphs. (Just try to keep it shorter than 300-400 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 bands were used to create it, and what’s interesting about the geologic history of some obscure speck of color in the far corner of an image. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy about a scene, tell us about it.

The prize. We can’t offer prize money for being the first to respond or for digging up the most interesting kernels of information. But, we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Roughly one week after a “mystery image” appears on the 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 an image. We’ll also recognize people who offer the most interesting tidbits of information. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for 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, please sit on your hands for at least a few days to give others a chance to play.

You can read more about the origins of the satellite puzzler here. Good luck!

September Puzzler Answer

October 5th, 2012 by Adam Voiland

Congratulations to Carl Schardt, Conan Witzel, and David Haycock for being some of our first readers to work out that the September puzzler showed part of Queensland’s Channel Country. Carl quickly recognized it was the Simpson Desert, but it took Conan and David a few days to pinpoint the exact area shown.

If you missed it, check out the caption we published about the area back in September as one of our Images of the Days. We’ve  published a few other images of Channel Country in the past that are worth a look, including a false-color MODIS image of flooding in 2011 and a false-color Landsat image of the Burke and Hamilton Rivers in 2000.

If you want to find out more about the geography of Queensland, we highly recommend heading over to Queensland by Degrees, a “community geography” project organized by the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland (RGSQ). As part of the project, folks are heading to the bush to take photos and record basic information about specific locations all over Queensland.

Their Eyre Creek site (25.000°S 139.000°E) is quite close to the spot we showed in the puzzler (139.216 E, 24.601 S). Go here for a full map of the areas RGSQ has surveyed. The picture below offers a glimpse of what the landscape looks like from the ground. No dunes in sight, but the group did report the area featured “undifferentiated Cainozoic gravel and pebbles of silicifed rock (i.e. gibbers).”

Photo by Paul Feeney.

September puzzler

September 10th, 2012 by Adam Voiland

Every month, NASA Earth Observatory will offer up a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The fourth puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section below to tell us what part of the world we’re looking at, when the image was acquired, and what’s happening in the scene.

How to answer. Your answer can be a few words or several paragraphs. (Just try to keep it shorter than 300-400 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 bands were used to create it, and what’s interesting about the geologic history of some obscure speck of color in the far corner of an image. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy about a scene, tell us about it.

The prize. We can’t offer prize money for being the first to respond or for digging up the most interesting kernels of information. But, we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Roughly one week after a “mystery image” appears on the 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 an image. We’ll also recognize people who offer the most interesting tidbits of information. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for 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, please sit on your hands for at least a few days to give others a chance to play.

You can read more about the origins of the satellite puzzler here. Good luck!

August Puzzler Answer

August 21st, 2012 by Adam Voiland

Read our recent Image of the Day to find out more about the Yanqi Basin, the answer to August’s puzzler.  Congratulations to Yiannis Raftopoulos for being the first to identify the location.

We posted the mystery image on Monday at 6:17 p.m. and on our social media accounts on Tuesday morning. Within minutes of appearing on social media, Yiannis had worked out the answer. The lesson we take from this: the Yanqi Basin puzzler was a bit too easy.

So we ask you: what should we do to make this more challenging?  Do you have any suggestions for puzzler imagery?  (Write to us directly, so as not to spoil the idea for the rest of the readers.)  We will keep hunting for something that will stump you.

EO’s Satellite Puzzler: August 2012

August 13th, 2012 by Adam Voiland

Every month, NASA Earth Observatory will offer up a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The third puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section below to tell us what part of the world we’re looking at, when the image was acquired, and what’s happening in the scene. Bonus points if you can do it in less than 2 hours and 56 minutes—the amount of time it took Alex Mathieu to successfully solve our first puzzler.

How to answer. Your answer can be a few words or several paragraphs. (Just try to keep it shorter than 300-400 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 bands were used to create it, and what’s interesting about the geologic history of some obscure speck of color in the far corner of an image. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy about a scene, tell us about it.

The prize. We can’t offer prize money for being the first to respond or for digging up the most interesting kernels of information. But, we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Roughly one week after a “mystery image” appears on the 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 an image. We’ll also recognize people who offer the most interesting tidbits of information. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for an institution that you want us to recognize, please mention that as well.

You can read more about the origins of the satellite puzzler here. Good luck!

Answer to July Puzzler: Dudinka, USSR

July 17th, 2012 by Adam Voiland

This image was acquired by a Gambit satellite on July 15, 1966. Click on the image for a larger view.

Congratulations to Yiannis Raftopoulos for being the first to correctly identify that our second satellite puzzler was a view of Dudinka, a port city along the Yenisei River in northern Siberia. Raftopoulos submitted his answer just 15 hours and 51 minutes after we posted the image—not quite as fast as Alexandre Manthieu was at solving our first puzzler, but still quicker than we had expected given that the image came from a declassified GAMBIT spy satellite and was taken 46 years ago this week. We also received insightful comments from Mark H. (who deduced it was the Arctic, based on the shape of the lakes) and from Anthony Williams (who realized it wasn’t the United States due to the existence of a lone soccer field). Thanks to all who participated. We’ll post a complete caption as our Image of the Day on July 20, 2012.  And look for a new puzzler in August.