Earth Matters

Earth Week Puzzler #1

April 22nd, 2013 by Adam Voiland


Each month, Earth Observatory offers up a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. In celebration of Earth Month 2013, we’re upping the ante. We are going to release a new puzzler image every day this week.  The first image 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, and why the scene is interesting. We’ll post the answer to all five puzzlers at 6 p.m. EST on Friday, April 26. 

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 prizes, but we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Later this week when we post annotated and captioned versions of the puzzler images as our Image of the Day, we will acknowledge the people who were first to correctly ID the images. 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, look at this week as a new challenge — can you get all five image locations?

Good luck!

85 Responses to “Earth Week Puzzler #1”

  1. Ghandi says:

    Tree river system

  2. Laurie says:

    Looks like sand. Subaqueous. Color enhanced.

  3. The Cherd says:

    To me it looks like Fractals, like an earth version of a plants leaf and how it grows and multiplies in a fractal sort of way. At least I know the picture is of Earth. Hope within this century we will know if another is out there casting the shadows of life in it’s own system and it’s own beautiful ball of plasma at it’s center

  4. Craig says:

    Brazilian rain forest, probably an old picture.

  5. Lee says:

    I’m guessing a tiny speck of the Amazon rainforest. If so, it’s amazing that the flora is so dense you can’t even see the rivers.

  6. Patrick Chin says:

    I think Earth Week Puzzler #1 is a satellite image of the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest single rainforest and a key component of Earth’s regenerative cycles

  7. Sunil says:

    Russian Taiga forest

  8. Dave says:

    This is in central Siberia, in the area near Krasnoyarsk and Novisibersk. Possibly in the same Longitude, but further north, nearer the arctic sea, also in Russia.

  9. Adam Voiland says:

    From @gjones17620 via Twitter

    @NASA_EO Probably wrong, but looks to me like the Indonesian rainforest around dawn. Earth is gorgeous, though.

  10. Adam Voiland says:

    From @dunmorecorp via Twitter

    @NASA_EO The Amazon Rainforest? #EarthDay @NASA

  11. Adam Voiland says:

    From @aravindh_a via Twitter

    @NASA_EO I guess the image taken is above #Antartica during night time #EarthDay

  12. Lalitkumar Jadav says:

    According to me, small dots that are visible in picture are dust particles. May be camera lens of a satellite is dusty. And behind that there is a green grassland and the grooves indicate higher land of trees (the embossed part) and deeper part is land. Thank You.

  13. JPMajor says:

    This looks like an area of Central American rain forest in southeastern Mexico, near the border of Guatemala. Resolution seems like a regular dSLR camera… astronaut photo from the ISS, perhaps?

  14. Adam Voiland says:

    From @Sparkygirl18 via Twitter

    @NASA_EO Middle Africa? lol. Looks like it could be in the ocean somewhere.

  15. Omkar Marne says:

    Looks like a sand

  16. Alvaro Ricardez Scheremberg says:

    It’s the Amazonia.

  17. Antony says:

    This looks like Amazon how it was

  18. Raghu says:

    sundarban rainforest

  19. rafael sedas says:

    Amazonas in Brazil.

  20. cyba says:

    I think this is a mountain/valley formation, shown in a false color image. My guess would be somewhere near the Sognefjord in norway or a part of the himalaya mountains.

  21. Nathan says:

    My first impulse was rain forest from north east DRC or Cameroon. But it is unusual to see such steep grades there. More of rolling hills. In fact I am surprised to see slopes that seem to be the result of fairly recent erosion covered in trees. Normally we see this in dry climates where there is no vegetation to protect the land from erosion (i.e. Canyons of the western United States.) Also it is strange to have this much erosion on what appears to be a flat area. This leads me to believe that this must be topography caused not by erosion but by glacial ice. I have seen some topography like this in the Balkans. I would say somewhere that was covered by ice in the last ice age. Perhaps part of Iceland, Alaska or elsewhere in northern Canada?

  22. Ethan says:

    The Rain forest

  23. cyba says:

    I have to correct myself. It actually looks like the Amazonian Area like others mentioned above…
    It for sure is a true color image of a forest area.

  24. Cocobill says:

    Seems like part of a rock found underwater,engraved by plants that used to grow on it.

  25. Michael R says:

    I would guess this is from 2007 picture of Brazil. It was to show the flooding in that area. The photo was captured with visible and infrared light.

  26. Carlos Moura says:

    Amazon rainforest, maybe Landsat 5 TM, composition 542 (or else).

  27. James says:

    Karst formations in Los Haitises National Park, Dominican Republic?

  28. Caleb says:

    Looks like a segment form the First Light for ISERV Pathfinder, Space Stations Newest ‘Eye’ on Earth, looking at the mouth of the Rio San Pablo in Veraguas, Panama, as it empties into the gulf of Montio image. on the Nasa Earth highlights webpage

  29. Sharline says:

    Maybe it’s a false colour image of a desert in Australia with dry drainage gullies taken by LandSat7. It’s green because it’s not reflecting near IR due to the lack of moisture. The tiny pinpricks of grey could be the small, sparse vegetation.

  30. Cakap Niaga says:

    ● Malaspina Glacier in Southeastern Alaska
    ● September 4, 2012 | 9:36:06AM (timezone is 4 hours behind GMT)
    ● Interesting on its lush greenery.

  31. Mercedes Godoy says:

    Creo que es una vision de una hoja de una planta que nuestra la fotosintesis en proceso.

  32. Julian says:

    Es en el fondo de algún océano o mar.

    It’s at the bottom of any ocean or sea.

  33. Migue Segovia says:

    Las Amazonas………Feliz Dia Tierra querida!!!!

  34. Mina says:

    I thinking of some equatorial region probably Russian taiga

  35. cecilia says:

    Looks like fund freshwater lake (Fonfo de lago de agua dulce)

  36. Anadechile says:

    Creo que es la selva amazónica.

  37. Tammy says:

    Looks like it could be a snowy tundra under the glow of the northern lights.

  38. luis alvarado mauricio says:

    it isnt amazon, its beech of caribean

  39. victor silva says:

    creo que puede ser una llanura desértica tomada sin mucha forestación en América del sur.

  40. margarita concha says:

    una hoja verde de un árbol a la sombra, un microcosmo, un aliento fresco y sueños inconclusos, un súper mega zoom desde el fondo de una pupila.

  41. Eduardo Vargas says:

    La foto esta granulada No es el Glaciar Malaspina, mas bien parece un fondo marino, cerca de algún volcán sumergido en erupción.

    Demasiado denso para ser el amazonas.

  42. chandra says:

    looks like mountain ranges underneath sea bed!

  43. liz margelys says:

    es áfrica!!! una zona selvática

  44. Sarah says:

    New Zealand or maybe Ireland? Don’t laugh!

  45. Marcus Scherer says:

    it is in the northern part of the Amzonas province of Brazil, east of the Tulu Tuloi II peak. Part of the cristallin shield.

  46. ata says:

    True color image of central southern Venezuela, roughly a bit before noon if you are being friendly and the top is oriented north. Similar eroded but covered terrain e.g. here: 4.2035, -65.5925

  47. Debbie says:

    Brazilian rain forest.

  48. JayyVee says:

    Looks like a shot of the amazon (or some rain forest) from a plane showing the topography – you can make out window reflections in 2 different spots seems to me, mid lower right, and almost mid-left.

  49. Marcq says:

    Looks like a typical dendritic drainage pattern, maybe with a single mature river system in the center with much younger ones surrounding it. I wouldn’t say sand or desert just because these are clearly water erosion formations, not wind blown. Best guess, temperate forest near a passive plate margin (low up lift, medium rain fall). Central Russia?

  50. JOI says:

    Ganges River INDIA

  51. María Paz Vega Morales says:

    Selva Lacandona, México.

  52. esceptic0 says:

    a leaf surface

  53. Murat says:

    Brazilian rain forrest in 2000

  54. Srinivasan says:

    algae on a lake, perhaps?

  55. Joan Catherine Bunyan says:

    The visual, physical, green, carpet, substance is actually a surface layer embedded on the water of lakes and ponds for the unique multiplication of living organisms.

    This spectacular design is enhanced by sunlight and the slight movement of the water.

  56. Mark Page says:

    It is a picture of part of The Congo Rainforest, judging by the shadows, the picture has been tipped on it’s side and was taken in the morning around 1000 hours local time. Got any harder ones please.

    • Mark Page says:

      forgot to add – the picture must have been taken before HD quality satellite images were available – say late 1980’s early 1990’s

  57. Eric C says:

    There doesn’t seem to beenough relief for this photo to be rainforest of Brazil, or the Congo. At first, I thought rainforest in Indonesia, or Borneo, but again, these seem to be rolling hills caused by wearing down of the mountains, much like the southern appalachian mountains. I am guessing the southern appalachians of Tennessee, Alabama or Georgia.

  58. Manuel Cadavid says:

    Mi impresión es que se trata de la parte sureste de la isla de SULAWESI en indonesia.

    I Think is somewhere on the southeast of SULAWESI island (Indonesia)

  59. ndrso says:

    Jura Mountains Regional Natural Park.

  60. Brittman says:

    -Por el tipo de vegetación tan abundante es una selva tropical en un periodo lluvioso.
    -Muestra erosión pluvial, característica de lluvias intensas, aunque no evidencia gran diferencia de altitudes, osea que no presenta plegamientos por movimientos tectónicos.
    -La selva del Amazonas.

  61. Mark R says:

    The Amazon basin? Very hard for me to tell. Looking forward to coming back and seeing the answer.

  62. Roger says:

    Central Africa with karst topography.

  63. Sandyrose says:


  64. Wa'Oyikil says:

    Creo que es algún lugar del Perú, en la región de Junin o alguna de las aledañas… quizá tomada en los 80’s debido a la calidad de la imagen º-º sería interesante que fuese alguno de los causes que originan el Amazonas… jé!

    Naaaa, estoy adivinando ._.

  65. E..yne says:

    It looks like the Mississippi river area, possibly the Louisiana Delta…

  66. siesta says:

    Interesting! ABout 1/3 in from the right and 1/3 up, looks like an Inca temple!

  67. Oliver says:

    Erosion through loose rocks with a lot of copper. So, where ever there is an old mine with a lot of rain.

  68. ALFONSO J. says:

    ¿Tal vez lo que no han terminado de Deforestar en las Selvas de Sumatra? (¡¡Qué Salvajada!!…)

  69. Nidhi bhatia says:

    This is the image of the Algae in the China’s Yellow Sea. Because of High Level of Nutrients like Nitrates in the Sea water coming from the Industrial Waste and the Ground water from the Over-fed Crops. It is in such a big area that it can be viewed from the space too.

  70. Carey says:

    Mars – 10,000 years ago. (Before it turned red).

  71. Pintag says:


  72. Angie Connelly says:

    The texture of the image appears to be dense green vegetation. Probably somewhere in the Amazon rain forest. There does not appear to be a large degree of elevation change, probably a tropical plane.

  73. Leslie says:

    swamp or bog?

  74. Jeanette says:

    I’m guessing an algae bloom, maybe in China since huge one is occurring right now off the coast of Quingdao. My second guess is a rainforest in Brazil or the forests of Ireland. I don’t know much about satellite imagery so I am not sure how it was photographed, but I promise to look it up after my final projects and finals are done!!

  75. Yasunori Miura says:

    1) Part of the world: Crossed mountain shapes (double L shapes) with forest and small rivers on land with complex topography.
    2) Time of image acquired: Daytime on green forest due to identify special spotted target by color or some sources (O2 output or CO2 input) from plants and/or trees on land)
    3) Reason of interesting scene: To find new kinds of plants or trees (shown by white spots) through the forest, due to vegetations etc. on complicated crossed surface, which are obtained it as results of random distribution in low sites of river valley sites.

  76. Angie Connelly says:

    This might be an older image of an area of the Amazon rain forest that is now deforested.

  77. Roger says:

    It’s Sunday evening and I can’t seem to find the answer. It was to be posted on Friday.

  78. Lucia Salas Cordero says:

    Creo que es el Mato Grosso en Brazil, el pulmón de la tierra

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