Earth Matters

July Puzzler

July 21st, 2015 by Adam Voiland


Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The July 2015 puzzler 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, what the image shows, 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 day to give others a chance to play.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved some 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.

Good luck!

40 Responses to “July Puzzler”

  1. Salman says:

    I think that the image shows the natural creation of the land and how these curves are all almost same.. And also that this land has not been touched by humans… And it would be inappropriate to live here…. But nature can give home everyone… (Y)

  2. michael says:

    a brain.

  3. michael says:

    a brain

  4. Jeremy says:

    Mississippi River delta in the fall.

  5. Charlie vasquez says:

    Terrain: mountenous. Possibly sand. Very dry. Taken sometime during the day. About afternoonish. It also has carvings of we’re water once sat. Long ago. As you look further up. Trees start to appear. More rain. Location: Afghanistan?

    • NASAFan says:

      It’s kind of clear that this pic shows mountenous region with sand but I think it’s somewhere in America maybe near texas or something like that.

  6. Karen Y says:

    My guess is hill country of Texas ~NW or west of San Antonio. Perhaps further west toward Fort Stockton where it’s drier. Region with extensive horizontal sedimentary stratigraphy and stream systems that have incised down to make the hills.

    • DavidBoise says:

      That was my thought, as well. Extensive, near horizontal, shallow Cretaceous coastal shelf limestone.

  7. Ginger says:

    My best guess is the Yarlung Tsangpo Gorge / River during … sunrise? Sunset? An eclipse? Some manner of light fluctuation. The ‘fingers’ of the land mass being rounded look, to my inexpert eye, like they have been shaped by water and the striations and ‘levels’ in the mass lend themselves to the belief that they have some significant height. Anyway…First time visitor, first time guesser. What do I know? 🙂

  8. steve says:

    Aerial shot of the b badlands

  9. Wendy Williamson says:

    I believe it the Sonoran Desert in the US southwest.

    The green area is a higher elevation and slips down into a dry valley. The erosion creates dry washes and box canyons. There are few trees, but lots of scrub greenery, such as ocatilla and palo verde with scattered grasses.

    My second guess, if I had one, would be the Sarengeti (sp?) desert in Africa..

  10. Stephanie Wurdinger says:

    This is along the north coast of Somalia between Dayaha and Maydh, in Sanaag region. Mt Shimbiris is just off the upper right hand corner of this image. I believe it is part of the Maydh greenstone belt.

  11. Srinath Belur says:

    PIA02709: Anaglyph with Landsat Overlay, Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia

     Target Name:  Earth
     Is a satellite of:  Sol (our sun)
     Mission:  Landsat 
    Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) 
     Spacecraft:  Landsat
    Space Shuttle Endeavour
     Instrument:  C-Band Interferometric Radar 
    Thematic Mapper 
     Product Size:  1412 x 1588 pixels (w x h) 
     Produced By:  JPL 
     Producer ID:  MRPS95872 JSC2000-E-02630  
    Information:  You will need 3D glasses 
     Primary Data Set:  SRTM Mission 
     Full-Res TIFF:  PIA02709.tif (6.288 MB)
     Full-Res JPEG:  PIA02709.jpg (309.4 kB)  

  12. Michael Brown says:

    Brazil: image shows satellite photo of Brazilian outcrop during drought period. Interesting because it looks like brain structure.

  13. Will Spears says:

    The topography reminds me of flying over Utah, so I’m going to say Canyonlands National Park.

  14. Fritz G says:

    China loess plateau region

  15. Rhodes Hileman says:

    Left of center, I see an unnatural straight cut running east-west across the hillsides. South of that, in the valley, is what appears to be a farm/homestead with gardens, though it could be just a natural vegetation area: brush? trees? . The telltale suggesting artifice is the cliff north of the leveled area. Downstream, beyond the fork, is a constriction on the stream, perhaps a dam or bridge, though there’s no water above it, and no apparent road to it.

    The area is mostly rolling grassland ranging from brown to green. Sedimentary geology shows alternating layers of a whiter material, perhaps limestone, with white caps on the higher hills, again limestone? So this sedimentary rock was laid down by two distinct processes operating alternately over long time periods.

    Streambeds are of course greener than the hills above them, but why is the north side of the image so much greener? I’m assuming this is a true color image; maybe it’s not. I’m seeing the image as about 15 miles wide, but it could be 75 miles.

    Hilltop to the right of center appears to have two isoclinal road-loops, but to no discernable purpose. They appear to be natural forms, but have suspiciously consistent width. Were these hilltops mined for something? No roadworks or tailings evident.

    • Robert Rowley says:

      Looks like a bottom and land topography image of the area above Canada. Perhaps Skaare Fiord off norwegian bay.

  16. Jennifer Savidge says:

    Nile River Delta

  17. Peggy says:

    I’m guessing it’s the intersection of the Missouri and Shenandoah Rivers and the deltas there. I was at the Shenandoah River recently and saw curvy areas like the “fingers” shown. Taken in Spring.

  18. Emi says:

    Not super high elevation and not being rapidly eroded by streams. Some semi-arid location. Could be part of Badlands National Park, or somewhere in the interior part of Australia. Geology is not appropriate to be Ethiopian highlands.

  19. S. Koziol says:

    Location unknown to me – but the thing that intrigued me about the image is how the different rock strata layers behave like a natural topographic map. The image was taken during the dry season and it should be in a place that has a reasonable amount of water to cause the erosion. Looking forward to finding out where this is!?

  20. Afif Fauzan says:

    Denudational landform. Arid climate. Steep slope. Mostly rocks. Visible spectral band. True color composite. Daytime acquisition.

  21. Lawrence Thomas says:

    Country:Somalia ..the center of the photo is at 10*41’37.06″ N- 47*11’51.81″ E Form the center on the photo on north east line heading 47.85 degrees is Mount Shimbiris Highest peak in Somalia at 8071 ft above sea level in the Al Madow mountain range ,Ogo mountain .Sanaag region

    • Vladimir S says:

      Yes – this is the correct place – google those coordinates: 10.693628 , 47.197725

      Well done! 🙂

    • Yiannis Raftopoulos says:

      well done! I would never guess Somalia. At least I was in the right…continent 🙂

  22. Tom C says:

    Badlands of Arizona, this is not a visible spectrum image, but one that highlights plant life in a monochromatic green. What makes this image interesting besides the fished landscape (center) is how the foliage seems to grow along contours of elevation change (increase) across the top of the image, forming “rings”.

  23. MICHAEL says:

    It is like the aftermath of flooding.

  24. Jayaraj Rajan says:

    It’s yemen

  25. Gareth Shelley says:

    Is this an outlying area of Lake Powell, the now very dry reservoir in (Arizona)? There is a light contour which could be the usual fill level. I guess it’s summer. Cheers.

  26. kathleen Jones says:


  27. Mitra says:

    Dried up parts of the Amazon during summer

  28. nes vida says:

    Mountains with traces of ice almost melted down to rivers and creeks. Similarities are due to the same climatic or temperature exposure.

  29. Dago Red says:

    It looks like an Arial Photo of an Underwater series of trenches, Where ??? Green is Algae
    & healthy, Maybe off the coast of the Philippines ?? You can see the water levels high & low points.

  30. Javier says:

    It seems a layered igneous complex with a gently dipping sequence. It reminds me a similar landscape in Bushveld, is too curvy. But also other lithologies are probable.
    The photo seems to be in the visual band.

    I see a NW Fault across the left and down center of the image, and probably is another one on the upper part.

    The weather it’s not dry, but the image probably be in summer. But is clearly that the drainage system is active, with development of vegetation increased at the North part. I think the photo is somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere. I think somewhere in Siberia or Alaska.

  31. Margaret says:

    Andes Mountains?

  32. Yiannis Raftopoulos says:

    It seems a lot like a mediterranean semi-arid environment. At first it remind me the hills around Jerusalem but that is densely populated. I don’t know exactly where it is but it is very similar to the formations in Cyrenaica in Libya, north-east of Benghazi along the Mediterranean sea.

  33. wilfredo polonia says:

    this area in the mediterranean semi-arid near france and turkey

  34. brijesh says:

    Its above water area….