Earth Matters

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!

79 Responses to “October Puzzler”

  1. Callan Bentley says:

    Salt glaciers in the Zagros Mtns of Iran?

  2. Maps International says:

    Is it part of the Grand Canyon?

  3. GUERREIRO says:

    I believe that it is in loess plateau area Kelan (China), near the Gobi Desert

  4. Sidewinder says:

    Western Part of the Grand Canyon acquired by EO-1 ALI?

  5. Kevin says:

    Australian copper mines?

  6. ana marie delos santos says:

    a strong form of rock that build a thousand of years ago or stone age!

  7. Victor Gustavo Dias de Moraes says:

    Looks like the Gobi desert, really. But this can be a Martian landscape. The interesting thing is that it has a small river that descends from south to north in the bottom left photo. It is water on Mars! The dark spot in the upper left of the photo, is hematite, if Gobi, or something like tar, if a photo Martian. A great adventure unravel these cracks soil. There caves? There will be water on Mars flowing underground in caves?

  8. Juan Banganho says:

    Grand Canyon
    We can see the passage lefth by the wather in the surface
    Minerals, such as iron oxide and some clouds.

  9. Albert Cowan says:

    Looks like it might be an ice sheet over water or a mountain range with water bodies throughout. Both are contained in numerous places.

  10. Maria Blanca says:

    some of Earth’s crust is cracking …

  11. Joey says:

    Is it Lucy Liu face?

  12. Mike says:

    It looks like Tanuf, Oman (or the canyon north of the city)

  13. Jaco says:

    Those look like receding glaciers.

  14. Victor Gustavo Dias de Moraes says:

    Yes, I think you’re wanting to fool me, saying it’s a picture of the Earth. It’s Gale Crater on Mars, the deepest part of Gale crater.

  15. John Rhoda says:

    Athabasca Oil Sands of Alberta, Canada… fractured shale deposits caused by probing for natural gas & some natural erosion. Photo taken within the last 5 years.

  16. Ahmed khaled says:

    it’s an old river that become a part of the desert

  17. Larry Z says:

    appears to be a dormant volcano (large, open crater) just below the photo’s center. Next to that ‘open crater’ appears to be another, much larger dead volcano….(crater at top.) Lot’s of erosion on the cliff sides almost everywhere.

    My best ‘guess’ of locations would be somewhere in / near the Grand Canyon.

  18. Butch Jordan says:

    It looks like heat had quite a bit to do with parts of this photo. It indicates a flow of lava over the edge of rock. I would guess Hawaii …volcano lava dripping into the ocean from a cliff.

  19. Lucía says:


    I wonder if it could be some area which was supposed to be covered with ice, but due to the global warming of the planet, the ice has disapeared. So I would say that the part of the world we’re looking at is some place near the polar icecaps; that the image has been acquired recently and that what is happening in the scene is this process of retreat of glaciers, permafrost and sea ice which let us perceive the signs of erosion that the ice has carved in the rocks.

    I apologize in advance if this makes no sense at all. It is just an idea.

    Kind regards,


  20. Samuel Ramos says:

    Tanggula Mountain in Qinghai which is where the Yangtsi River begins…..

  21. Paula says:

    Canyon State Park in californian mojave.

  22. Tony Castiglione says:

    North Afgan Mt.Range

  23. John stahr says:

    After this summer, it’s my lawn.

  24. Jack says:

    Dying glaciers in Kashmir.

  25. Alberto says:

    Vatican City 🙂

  26. Rajesh Palle says:

    i think it’s a beach ended in stone with depleted water levels…as if suddenly… because last nite was a no moon day….

  27. Joules says:

    A close-up of a chocolate brownie.

  28. ikikik says:

    Somewhere in earth or mars .

  29. Britton says:

    Mountains near the peak Uludoruk Tepe in far SE Turkey.

  30. asz says:

    The Pyriness in Europe, near MIDI DE OSSAU, look carefully, you only should change the ligth and contrast, to our LIGTH SPEED velocity, mars and earth doesn’t has the same LIGTH speed velocity measure……

  31. rkj says:

    Looks like there’s a shadow the shape of United Kingdom.

  32. TFMRT says:

    stone build by underwater volcano

  33. Paul says:

    Must be a volcano, lava. Could be on Iceland..

  34. Paul says:

    A sediment of cold lava somewhere on Iceland..

  35. sarah says:

    It’s the Himalayas

  36. IainMRandall says:

    Looks like the UK’s shape is there but is not ‘there’ if you see what I mean. I think the picture shows the Granite in Northern Europes plate, there’s large deposits of it where I would expect them to be and they look flowing as if once molten.

  37. Stefanitely says:

    The cradle of human civilization: the Great Rift Valley in Ethiopia.

  38. ven8zia says:

    Maybe the mountains of Tibet, east of Lhasa?

  39. mem says:

    Al parecer por allí pasó un glaciar.

  40. Mj Alcivar says:

    I see the word KI at the left of the center rock, and I believe that the photo was taken at the Himalayas in the summer. Mj

  41. trgdr90 says:

    That point just below the middle of the picture appears to be Mt. Everest. The coloration is odd because the Himalaya Range is snow and glacier capped year round [i believe].

  42. martin says:

    Naked Greenland..;)

  43. ania says:

    this is a early human fossil

  44. masoud kimiagari says:

    grand canyon

  45. Maria Lorraine de Ruiz-Alma says:

    California’s Death Valley.

  46. Eric says:

    Iceland.. Very young geology.. Glacier, volcano

    And @asz .. Its Pyrénées not ” Pyriness” :-/

  47. Don Hanselman says:

    image of a side head view of President George Washington…

  48. Tony Evanson says:

    Looks a bit like the dry valleys in Antartica.

  49. Dakota Steve says:

    This is the area around Uludoruk Peak in the southeastern Taurus Mountains of Turkey. The image must have been acquired in fall, showing just how unhealthy those galciers are, as they are almost completely bare ice with no acccumulation zone. Perhaps it was a very dry year, but those glaciers in that fairly arid region are going fast.

  50. Drew Stewart says:

    I thought about and i came the conclusion you should come get me to stand in a photo somewhere and we will have the best Where is he game there has ever been! I wish i could have the job of discovery

  51. Vidushi says:

    it is actually the paleosol eroded deposit. It seems to have drained a river. their must had been a source of water for sure. it has been eroded very badly.

  52. Randi Stewart says:

    Looks to be the place of a long Dried up river, but the wave/wet looking sections look to be recently (when the photo was taken) opened natural springs.

  53. Jim Carrillo says:

    Greenland exposed, after ice shelf melting?

  54. Nerissa-Cesarina Urbani @CharonPluto says:

    Most likely the Chilean countryside comes closest to this picture……. but yes I would say that was taken in the Pacific Ocean side of the Andes, at the level of the tropics.

  55. Biswadeep auddy says:

    Grand Canyon

  56. Alev AKYILDIZ says:

    It is Uludoruk Mountian in Hakkari / Turkey. Peak at 37″ 29’14 N, 43″59’17 E.

  57. sdh says:

    I think it could be a couple things. Either one, a melting glacier(judging from formation of the land and deep crevices) or, a mass of moisture above the surface of the earth from a water source below either in a canyon or mountaneous terrain?

  58. Eric Jeffrey says:

    Alev AKYILDIZ is right this is definatly Turkey with Uludoruk Tepe setting in the bottom right hand corner of the picture , the area is home to the Cilo-Sat mountain rangethat lies within the Hakkari Provence and is the most heavily glaciered area in Turkey. Izbìrak, is the largest of the ten glaciers , is in the upper left portion of the photo. The picture also reveals the impact of Global warming as it shows the glaciers continuing to melt. The Photo was also taken at about 200 feet and clearly shows the glaciers being smaller than previous pictures in 2006 and in 2009.

  59. Eric Jeffrey says:

    And by the way that earlier post should have said *2000 feet, sorry for the typo!
    Grats to Alev!!!!!! this one wassn’t easy!

  60. sam coard says:

    how about The Namib Desert, located in Namibia and Angola. looks exactly like it from a bird’s eye view.

  61. Alev AKYILDIZ says:

    Well congratulations to Britton first and then to David Haycock and Dakota Steve. Mine is Google Mapping

  62. Ragini Patil says:

    its i think grand canyon. i promise i didnt see the above comments.

  63. beverly aka Grammy says:

    grand canyon

  64. Roger Wakefield says:

    The remnants of a glacier and I would place it around Greenland! Lost to Global warming!

  65. Peter Yard says:

    OK. Mid afternoon. Mid northern latitudes, closer to the equator. Obviously dry mountainous terrain. Glaciers but they look dull and limited with no sign of significant channels from summer runoff. Northern half of image seems to show a highly eroded plateau with yellowish eroded material. I don’t know enough to be sure but I’d go with the suggestion that it is the Gobi Desert.

  66. Hinrich Muller says:

    North Dakota…

  67. Michael says:

    And if it’s afternoon, then up is West.

  68. Sachin Barvekar says:

    Due to sunset in that region dark patches are there, there is no lake or water, shadows are east southwards, so this mountainous region must be in south hemisphere, most possible place in Andes near Atacama desert, bordering counties like Chili and Peru

  69. Rod says:

    I believe those glaciers are in fact low hanging morning clouds in the depressions of an arid geology with steep canyons and associated shadows; where ever.

  70. MELISSA PEREZ says:


  71. george says:

    something to do with volcano. I would not know the exact place.

  72. Diane Melvin says:

    There is green vegetation only around the edges of the “glacier” or “ice/snow”. High elevation, generally very arid except for moisture from ice melt. Very rugged terrain, upturned heavily eroded sedimentary rock. Probably taken in the summer. Reminds me of rugged Afghanistan terrain or Himalayas, area where there is a lot of earth movement, maybe between the continental plates.