Earth Matters

EO’s Satellite Puzzler: July 2012

July 10th, 2012 by Adam Voiland

Click on the image for a larger view.

Every month, NASA Earth Observatory will offer up a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The second 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 satellite 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 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!

35 Responses to “EO’s Satellite Puzzler: July 2012”

  1. Dirk Ewy says:


    • theo says:

      EO’s satellites often uses VIIRS instrument to detect changes on the earth surface or ocean ..on this image in particular band3 of the VIIRS lense is used to show the oil spillage on the ocean and mos buildings are destroyed it may be due to earthquakes takin place in this area!!!

  2. Rosemary says:

    Romania Danube Delta
    Early nineties
    Port of call shipping

  3. John Renting says:

    Latvian coast, north of Riga.

  4. Rick Barnes says:

    It is an image of the western shore of Long Island. Brooklyn, in fact, before the Lincoln Tunnel was built along the East River!

  5. Mark H. says:

    Soccer field at the school – not baseball or the other football. No trees, low foliage, small roundish lakes (tundra or post-glacial?). No airport, major roads, or fishing port – just rail and sea transport. Can’t tell if raw materials (oil and coal?) are going in or out. Maybe a northern european location near the artic circle.

  6. Kim says:

    My first thought was NJ!

  7. David Manthos says:

    Best guess is the shore of the Caspian Sea. Very arid climate, as evidenced by the lakes showing their rings from water level drop and the absence of significant ground cover. Appears to be coal on its way out the conveyors to the ships, with oil storage tanks near-by as well. Very uniform, blocky buildings reminiscent of Soviet era planning. I agree with Mark H. about the lone soccer field, so HIGHLY unlikely it is the U.S. I would guess the resources are going out, since there is extensive rail lines to one big stockpile but that is just a guess. See Bekdash, Turkmenistan for comparison of the layout and climate indicators. Most other regions suggested are too verdant to fit this location.

    Half thought it was an old image from the Aral Sea before it dried up more, but I couldn’t find anything that fit…

  8. Paul Doyle says:

    Japan after the Tidalwave last year. buildings distroyed and pockets of water left.

  9. Yiannis Raftopoulos (Harokopio University of Athens) says:

    The lakes and vegetation indicate that it is somewhere near the arctic circle. Also the distileries that it is probably an oil/gas producing region and the city planning rather reminds that of a Soviet town. These attributes indicate that the area is in North western Siberia. The body of water is Yenisey river in western Taymyr region. The town depicted is Dudinka and it is probably taken in the late 60s, when the Messoyakha-Dudinka-Norilsk natural gas pipeline was being constructed (right part of the image seems like there’s some construction going on).

    • Yiannis Raftopoulos (Harokopio University of Athens) says:

      Looking the image more thoroughly I’m not sure neither about the time it was taken nor the construction I mentioned. In order to describe what’s going on I would mention the container/cargo ships, as “Dudinka processes cargo for and sends it to the Norilsk Mining and Smelting Factory and ships non-ferrous metals, coal and ore” according to Wikipedia. The image from Google Earth is not clear but even so it is visible that several lakes near the town center have been dried up or shrunk and also the port area also seems modified. Hence it should be taken several decades ago.

      • Yiannis Raftopoulos (Harokopio University of Athens) says:

        Taking into account Paul Doyle’s comment about the tsunami gives me the hint that the light shaded bodies of water (especially the one in the port area) might indeed be flooded areas. Also as I read from an article, “this part of the Yenisey river floods every year in springtime causing a seasonal halt, after the ice cover breaks. Undisrupted connection of Dudinka thoughout the year occurs since the late 70s when there was enough ice-breaking capacity.”

  10. Igor says:

    I think it is not Dudinka, but definitely it is Siberia. The river may be Angara, Ob, Amur… but I’m still searching…

  11. Pup says:

    I think it is the coast of western Mexico, possibly Cozumel.

  12. Tommy Kreisler says:


  13. Reinaldo Gunawan says:

    this is North Korea

  14. M Furo says:

    Crescent City, CA

  15. Derek McIntosh says:

    Yiannis is exactly right! I noticed the soviet city and the glaciated landscape but I would have looked all over ocean/sea coasts. You can tell it’s a river though by the way the sediment in the water is behaving at the bottom of the picture.

    • Yiannis Raftopoulos (Harokopio University of Athens) says:

      that’s a good point about the sediment flow!

  16. C S Martin says:

    This is the California coastline, it is a dry region, and has a shipping port, and the interesting feature is the fault line in the top right corner.

  17. Mariella says:

    I think that it is the Californian coastline.

  18. Aditya SRK says:

    I think it’s Dudinka Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia. at the first look i thought that it is the coastal line of Mexico.. but yes this contest is sooo interesting that i came to know a lot of places in the world map.. thanks to NASA for this amazing contest..

  19. Touseef Ashfaq says:


  20. Vicky Gorman says:

    London, Thames River, East End (recognize from opening credits on British soap-EastEnders)

  21. Grahamjedi says:

    This is Liverpool Uk, the City is smaller at the moment but this pic has been taken at some point in the future, probably about 23 years from now

  22. divy009 says:

    I would like to ask Alex Mathieu how he did it the first time!!! I mean this could be anywhere on earth!! My wildest guess is- somewhere in South America.

    • Alexandre Mathieu says:

      Dear divy009,

      As a regular reader of the Landslide Blog (part of the AGU blogosphere), i remembered an entry about landslides which occurr in quarry and open pit mine.
      On the left side of the EO’s image, i recognized a familiar rounded shape in a quarry that seemed to a landslide. In looked into the landslide blog, i hoped to find a image of this possible landslide to confirm my assumption and finally give the location of the area, that i did.

  23. Anu B says:

    It is Dudinka. The image was acquired recently, probably this summer (June 2012), when the thawing ice opened up shipping lanes over the Arctic and ships flocked to the area.

  24. Baiba says:

    I agree with Anu B – it’s Dudinka, Taymirskiy.
    From shadows thats fall on oil reservoirs – photograph was taken in the northern hemisphere. From sediments near coast – it is river, not sea coast. Also there is glacial lakes specific to Siberia. Definitely there are port – many tankers and other ships are in water.

  25. Mark H. says:

    Good Job Yiannis!
    I had Dudlinka in my list of 228 cities to check, but the modern imagery is very different from the image shown here. So i didn’t see the likeness – due to my limited skillz.

  26. Yiannis Raftopoulos (Harokopio University of Athens) says:

    Likewise Mark! Your accurate observation was a stepping stone for further research. This process is what knowledge is all about, isn’t it?