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Earth Matters

December Puzzler: The Scrabble/Words with Friends Edition

December 24th, 2015 by Mike Carlowicz

Images by NASA Earth Observatory. Mosaic by the Daily Mail.

Each month at the Earth Observatory, we publish a new satellite puzzler to challenge your remote sensing and image interpretation skills. But this December, a bit of mirth and mischief got into us. (“I could say ‘Elves,’ but it’s not elves really…”)

See, we have this great new image gallery — Reading the ABCs from Space — and between all of the letters and the festive holiday season, it got us to thinking about games. Then word games. Then ways to challenge and torment entertain our readers.

Your challenge this month is inspired by Scrabble or Words with Friends, depending on your age and your affinity for old-school versus electronic games. Over the next two weeks, we will publish seven satellite-observed letters as Images of the Day (IOTD). Your task is to keep track of those seven letters and to assemble them into words.

Recognition will be given to the reader who:

  • assembles the highest scoring Scrabble/Words with Friends word
  • assembles the highest scoring word with a connection to Earth science
  • assembles the most words with connection to Earth science

We all know you can find word-building tools on the Internet, but what fun would that be? Do it the old-fashioned way…with your brain and a writing tool.

Reminder: Our satellite gallery is here, but we are not using the full alphabet. Wait for the letters to be released as IOTDs between December 23 and January 3. To see which letters have been published as IOTDs check here. Submit your answers as comments on this blog post.


10 Responses to “December Puzzler: The Scrabble/Words with Friends Edition”

  1. liz dickison says:


  2. T says:

    Happy New year

  3. L K H says:

    How about “Janky?” Scores 19 in Scrabble.

    The gallery is such a fun way to use the photos!

  4. Brad Herold says:

    I suspect the highest scoring word is JANKY, a word according to Words With Friends (no definition provided by the online game), though doesn’t recognize it.

    The only word related to Earth Science I am finding is BANK. Seems difficult to make many words with one vowel.

    Anyone else see something else related to what we are looking for?

  5. Janet B. says:

    this is really hard – BAY is all I come up with.

  6. herschell says:


  7. beach cottages says:

    JANKY is the best one, it is big fun to play

  8. william birney says:

    bank, bay
    tay is a river in scotland
    ky and ny are accepted in scrabble and are abbreviations for states in the USA (lame, I know!)

  9. Jim in IA says:

    The best scoring word I can make with an actual definition is BANTY.

    BANK is related to Earth Sciences as it is along a river.

    YANK could be argued related to earthquake motions.

    Thanks for the game.