Earth Matters

May Puzzler

May 19th, 2014 by Adam Voiland


Every month we offer a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The April 2014 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what the image shows, what part of the world we are 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. (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 prize money, but, we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Roughly one week after a puzzler image appears on this 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 the image. We’ll also recognize people who offer the most interesting tidbits of information about the geological, meteorological, or human processes that have played a role in molding the landscape. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for or attend 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 or work in geospatial imaging, please sit on your hands for at least a few days to give others a chance to play.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved many of our puzzlers after only a few minutes or hours. To give more people a chance to play, we may wait between 24-48 hours before posting the answers we receive in the comment thread.

38 Responses to “May Puzzler”

  1. Peter says:

    Looks like Karaginsky Island almost surrounded by fresh, white new ice, with quite a bit of volcanic dust covered ice elsewhere.

  2. Rafhael says:

    This looks like granite to me..

  3. Justine says:

    Mt St Helen’s
    May of 1980 something

  4. Christina Gehricke says:

    Trash in the Pacific Ocean?

  5. Yura M says:

    This is an Arctic ice after volcano eruption.

  6. Emma Lester-Smith says:

    it’s a dune field, near Mawrth Vallis, on Mars. Spotted by the Mars Orbiter on December 30th 2013. parts of it have been identified as being the likely location for ancient water flows. 🙂

  7. Elise says:

    Oyster shell on the sea floor

    • MARYANNE says:

      definitely looks like an oyster shell. that was my official guess. or a shot of a planet’s terrain.

  8. Todd Morgan says:

    It’s what’s left over from the unfortunate Enterprise Cadet that wore the red uniform.

  9. Adrienn Gyarmati says:

    The dead Aral Sea located in Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan.Rapid evaporation is the result of environmental pollution,toxic chemicals from industrial projects.The plains covered with salt and toxic chemicals. Winds pick up the salty dust blow it onto fields as far as 200 miles away.People nearby suffer from cancer, lung disease, digestive disorders, antibiotic resistant tuberculosis, liver, eye, and kidney disorders.The Ko-Aral dam, built in 2005 with the aid of a World Bank loan,saved the North-part of the Aral Sea,water levels are rising,but South Aral Sea could disappear by 2020.

  10. PStock says:

    My nearest guess is a cross section of a meteor that was cut in half to view it’s interior.

  11. Fernando says:

    This is the azov sea or the aral sea. Salt deposits left by the retreatingn water

  12. one1revd says:

    I lean toward Fernando’s response! It looks like an evaporating lake somewhere, maybe the western USA?

  13. Ron says:

    My best guess is that it is a satellite image of dirty glacial debris on a body of water. Relatively fresh sea ice that hasn’t melted or been swept away forms a white crescent around a chain of small islands in the lower left of the image. Underwater shoals can be seen around the islands that are surrounded by clear water.

  14. Steve says:

    not sure where but looks like the ground that was beneath a glacier , and one that has recently receded so probably Antarctica or Greenland , nice image

  15. Joseph Breckenridge says:

    Either sea ice or possibly Northern Siberia.

  16. Bart Sause says:

    This looks like the debris or the area around one of the volcanos that erupted in Tolbatchik, Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia.

  17. Jim Borst says:

    It’s a pic of the recent landslide in the Dariali Valley of Georgia (the country.)

  18. Bart Sause says:

    I would guess this is the rocky terrain near the volcanos in Tolbatchik, Kamchatka Peninsula in Eastern Russia. (with ice and geysers and all).

  19. Fi says:

    The ocean floor.

  20. Frank Tennick says:

    On first sight it looks like agglomerate/volcanic ash in thin section – but no scale is provided & as we are informed that it is a satellite image – my first guess is clearly wrong!!
    So I’m puzzled – & look forward to seeing the answer.

  21. Laura Yeo says:

    I’ve been staring at this for the last hour and im going to say it a photo from the rapid ice melt in the Northwest Passage in the Summer of 2012

  22. Theron says:

    My guess is somewhere in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, taken recently and related to the recent news about the decline of Antarctic ice sheets.

  23. Milica Bogdanovic says:

    It looks like stones in Serbia… maybe mountain Ravna Gora in the circle- but it shows the structure of the Earth here (stones, minerals, etc). Guess blue is for clouds-different types.

  24. Elias Friedman says:

    Looks like a terminal moraine from a retreating glacier someplace, with a bit of left over ice left in that hollow there. In Greenland perhaps?

  25. Karen says:

    Receding glacier in Iceland after volcanic eruption in 2010

  26. P Tucker says:

    I see a glacier wash out but I do like the previous comments concerning volcanic eruption and ice melt.

  27. tamer says:

    This is last piece of a glacier melting on a mountain.

  28. Paulo Cesar says:

    Detail of the Oso landslide in Washington

  29. elena says:

    I see a volcanic formation. It may be a volcanic tuff with rounded clasts of other volcanic rocks

  30. Cris says:

    Guessing volcanic river in iceland?

  31. Mostafa says:

    this is not a satellite image!!

  32. anuj spacelover says:

    It is not a picture taken by a sattelite as I see small stones in the is on earth as the image consist of coal(black part).I.m not sure about the white part I think it is frozen water(glacier)…

  33. Daniel Bergström says:

    Looks like Web. A spiders hole

  34. Bishan Ghoshal says:

    Looks like plastic bag in a long dead Albatross (bones removed) at Midway Atoll !

  35. Jose Morones says:

    lake urmiah
    lake is drying every year

  36. Francisco Cardenas Olazaran says:

    Sopa de plástico en el océano pacífico, contaminación causada po el ser humano.

  37. Chris Reinheimer says:

    a tough one…one clue given is that it’s a satellite image, however It does indeed look like a close up of a volcanic rock…no scale makes it even tougher. my guess ….it is dirty pack ice, probably near the terminal end of a glacier entering the sea. I think the black areas of the photo are open water. some of what I think are the ice floes appear to be reagglomerated, and rounded by tidal action.