Earth Matters

EO’s Satellite Puzzler: June 2012

June 12th, 2012 by Adam Voiland

Every month or so, NASA Earth Observatory will offer up a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The first one 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 tell us what satellite and instrument produced the image, what bands were used to create the image, and what those tiny specks of tan are in the corner. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy about an image, tell us all 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.

A brush with fame. We’re not exactly, but our readership isn’t small either. Winners of the puzzler will contribute—and be recognized for doing so—to an article that we’ll share with our more than 100,000 subscribers, Facebook friends, and Twitter followers.  And that’s just the bare minimum. The caption you help us write might just be the next one that goes viral.

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

20 Responses to “EO’s Satellite Puzzler: June 2012”

  1. Rick Nugent says:

    My guess would be Colorado or west of Colorado. Surface mine of some type (copper, lead, etc.)

  2. John Amos says:

    Hmmm – looks like highwall coal mines in the middle of a semiarid, small-farm agricultural area. China? Sichuan Basin? Acquired at peak growing season so, assuming this is northern hemisphere, midsummer. Unless this is Australia… – j

  3. Dana McConkey says: me that looks like an open cast mine or two…and to the right of the image appears to be slag heaps…so we’re looking at mining coal or something along those lines. Where, I have no idea. If I were to through a guess, North Carlonina or Georgia or Virginia somewhere.

  4. Mark says:

    I can see why people are suggesting mining, but the edges of the area are too regular to be open cast mining. They also go right up to the edge of the cultivated zone, which doesn’t seem right if there is blasting. There is also what looks like two significant population centres, which also does not look like a zone associated with blasting. Small plots of land, which is most unlike the USA, I would suggest. Left of centre there is something that looks like a power station cooling tower seen from above.

    It looks to me more like a construction site than mining. The curious symmetry in the area to the left made me wonder for a moment if it could be the new F1 racing track at Austin in construction, but that doesn’t fit in with other evidence.

  5. Andi Antonius says:

    Definitely mine site. Indonesia, Java?

  6. April Abate-Adamds says:

    I think we are looking at surface mining and agriculture. This is definately not the United States because you would not see these two land uses intermingled together like this. I would guess that it is China. I see high walls from surface mines, mine dumps and those brown lumps on the right side of the image might be overburden spoils piles.

  7. Brent Newman says:

    It’s definitely a shot of a mineral mine surrounded by agricultural fields taking at the visible length probably using Terra MODIS. Because the pit is dark, it seems likely to be a coal mine with the tailings adjacent. However, the presence of the silos could indicate that asphalt and concrete could be produced suggesting that this is instead a quarry. My best guess for place is within Appalachia.

  8. Alexandre Mathieu says:

    I think that this imagery shows the Afsin Elbistan coal mine fields in turkey.
    The image cominf from this web page seems to correspond :

    Furthermore, on the left page of the Earth Observatory imagery we can observe an open pit wall collapse. A focus on the landslide is available here :

  9. Samira Daneshgar says:

    I think it’s a True Color GeoEye-1 image.

  10. Bryce Alexander says:

    I agree with Alexandre on the location. Orientation is rotated slightly from its North/South alignment by about 30 degrees. Looking at the shadows on the gullies in the nearby rocks this would place the time of day around noon local time. The farmed areas are irregular in size and shape which is uncommon in the United States. They are more typical of family owned plots in areas that have been long settled, such as Europe and Asia. Shadowing also indicates that this is an open pit, rather than a raised structure (often difficult to tell from a satellite image). The lighter colored rock is probably limestone, with the coal seams below. The mine has grown since this image, but is pretty recent.

  11. Ehsan says:

    This is a true color image taken by WorldView-2 satellite !

  12. TheAddisonJ says:

    Specifically you can search “Çoğulhan, Türkiye” and it almost pin points the site. It seems to be an open pit coal mine, and I would guess the image is from early 2011 around when it seems they had some pretty hefty landslides. Still working on those Tan specks & image information!

  13. Kirsten Moe says:

    I agree with Alexander it fits the Turky coal mine. not the US with living centers and irregular shaped fields, way too close to mining. At least way to much of it to close.

  14. Alexandre Mathieu says:

    Concerning the period of acquisition of this EO’s image, a clue can provide us a first approximation :

    As i highlighted in my previous post, nearby the Afsin-Elbistan thermal power plant is located the Collolar lignite mine (on the left side of the EO’s image) which was affected by a catastrophic and deadly landslide.
    The event which occurred on 10th February 2011 can be easily observed on the EO’s image, also acquired subsequently.
    This interval of acquisition (Feb 2011 – June 2012) is quite coarse and need to be defined more precisely.

    The Landslide Blog provides an entry on this event, including photos and a description of the main features of the event :

    About the general location :

    The area covered by the EO’s image seems to spread on the Afsin (by a majority) and Elbistan (partly) districts, part of the Kahramanmaras Province, in Turkey.
    For those who might be interested, Google Earth has an image of the area dated on June 2008 (approximate coordinates are 38°20’38.67″N and 37° 1’11.66″E)
    In comparison to the Google Earth view, the EO’s image was turned of around 45° in the direction of clockwise and the direction to the North goes from the top right corner of the image, approximately.

  15. Matthew says:

    Japan, Maybe?

  16. David Manthos says:

    Really had me guessing, but Alexandre is spot on. I did not expect it would be in such an arid area, given the square nature of the green fields (as opposed to the elegant circles you see in many desert irrigation systems). The spots appear to be well derricks on the 2008 image on Google Earth.

    • Alexandre Mathieu says:

      Agree. I was not really sure about the location at first cause the EO’s image is much more green-colored than the 2008 Google Earth view. I was a little surprised cause i could not expected such colorful landscapes in an area known to be mostly dry.

      In hindsight on the area (on Google Earth), we can observe several watercourses that irrigate surroundings and probably allow cultivation.
      However, on the 2008 Google Earth view, taken in June, several streams seem dry. That could explain that the image from Google appears more arid than the EO’s image. And that could be a clue to determine an accurate period of acquisition.

      But the difference in color could be explained by the possible different sensors used on both images (EO and Google Earth) and the possible post-processing of images. Just a suggestion, it’s not my field.

  17. Gary says:

    I will say somewhere near Pittsburgh, PA

  18. Paul McMullan says:

    An excellent example over mans control over Earths resources.

  19. Brian Lentz says:

    the Geysers geothermal plant near Clear Lake, California?
    (I know I’ve seen that image somewhere, but…)