Earth Matters

January Puzzler

January 25th, 2016 by Adam Voiland


Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The January 2016 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!

Update: The answer is posted here. The winners and more details are highlighted here.

19 Responses to “January Puzzler”

  1. Irene Marzolff says:

    This is a coral reef or atoll, with shallow water areas in light blue and tidal channels visible in darker blue. It is probably one of the many atolls in the Pacific or Atlantic oceans – but which one? Someone better find out quick before climate change has suceeded in eradicating it…

  2. Thomas Goldammer says:


    the left part is the Ngerbarad reef immediately north of Babeldaob island, Palau. 🙂

    Best regards.

  3. Tim Collins says:

    Just a guess but is it an atoll where nuclear bomb testing occured and is it in X-ray or gamma ray wavelengths showing residual radiation?

  4. Ali ebrahim says:

    Its from tesla satelite. Nourth ameroca. Erosion dry condition speeding.

  5. Anchal K says:

    It may be the part of Sudan country which is in North Africa. More precisely it is the Port Sudan on red sea which is in eastern Sudan.

  6. Anchal K says:

    It may be the part of Sudan country which is in North Africa. More precisely it is the Port Sudan on red sea which is in eastern Sudan country.

  7. Thushara Urumbil says:

    Coral Spawning on the Great Barrier Reef


    Maybe Iguazú Falls? It’s crazy… I know it… XD

  9. Paulo Rivetti says:

    Southern Andros island, Bahamas

  10. Barbar Eisinger says:

    Lava flowing into the ocean!

  11. Pratik Badagavi says:

    People I think it’s image of a islands beach or sand dune on some part of earth. I think the image maybe taken at sunset or sunrise and is edited.

  12. Janice Salinas says:

    Thermal images of icebergs. Climate changes showing “warming” in lighter blue images.

  13. Tyler Johnson says:

    The picture is of the northern shores of the island of Babeldaob, the largest island in the island country of Palau. The brighter blue colors indicate shallow waters. Interesting features in the photo include the two stream-looking formations in the sandbars, and also the darker spotted features which may indicate the presence of corals and reef structures.

  14. angela fay says:

    I think this shows sea level rise on one of the Marshall Island atolls.

  15. Carmen says:

    This is Central America, specifically, Mexico.I also see a storm passing by the area..

  16. Sunket says:

    I think it’s Maldives if not the coral reef; Fact about Maldives is that it is said to be the first to disappear as a consequences of rising sea level due to climate change;

    picture possibly taken from ISS around 250 km altitude, through visible channel

  17. Samuel says:

    Is it a section of Australia’s great barrier reef?

  18. Anchal Kariwala says:

    It may be the gulf of Alaska.