Earth Matters

October Puzzler

October 26th, 2018 by Kathryn Hansen

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The October 2018 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what we are looking at and why it is interesting.

How to answer. You can use a few words or several paragraphs. You might simply tell us the location. 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 feature in the image. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy, tell us about it.

The prize. We can’t offer prize money or a trip to Mars, 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. After we post the answer, we will acknowledge the first person to correctly identify the image at the bottom of this blog post. We also may recognize readers who offer the most interesting tidbits of information about the geological, meteorological, or human processes that have shaped the landscape. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for or attend an institution that you would like to recognize, please mention that as well.

Recent winners. If you’ve won the puzzler in the past few months or if you work in geospatial imaging, please hold your answer for at least a day to give less experienced readers a chance to play.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved some puzzlers after a few minutes. To give more people a chance to play, we may wait between 24 to 48 hours before posting comments.

Good luck!

72 Responses to “October Puzzler”

  1. Mohamad abughazi says:

    Its iceberg under the cloud

  2. Deborah Read says:

    Aircraft carrier

  3. Pritam says:

    I think it is a B2 SPIRIT under the clouds.

  4. MICHAEL Fredricks says:

    Iceberg drift and effects of Global warming and climate change on polar regions of our marble globe.

  5. Hardik vasantkumar shah says:

    iceberg floating off the northern Antarctic Peninsula. It is so interesting as it is properly shaped (sharp edges like rectangle or polygone or square) or carved out by Mother Nature.

  6. Chris Ruegsegger says:

    Looks like an iceberg (shaped like a coffin) partially obscured by clouds.

  7. Jarek says:

    Lotniskowiec USS Gerald R. Ford

  8. Jeff Kniaz says:

    Tabular Iceberg

  9. Tayyeba says:

    Floating ice sheet

  10. Ben McGraw says:

    It looks like a giant iceberg, perhaps broken off one of the Antarctic ice shelves.

  11. Pratik Kumar says:

    An iceberg seen from over the clouds.

  12. Gregory Kiser says:

    Calved ice sheet under cloud cover.

  13. William Roeder says:

    Iceberg beneath a layer of stratocumulus clouds.

  14. Sukhjot Singh says:

    Its is image of a water body, maybe seo or ocean with reflection of sky. We are able to see clouds in the water. Also, it looks like the white thing in water might be a iceberg or boat.

  15. Dave Burton says:

    Iceberg in the Southern Ocean?

  16. Warren in New Zealand says:

    Broken shard off an ice shelf

  17. Arnfinn Skadsheim says:


    This is an ice floe broken off an ice shelf extending into the sea or a large freshwater lake.


  18. Mark Hoffman says:

    It’s an iceberg.

  19. Traci says:

    The image was chosen for its coffin shape and the cloud pattern above. The place is?… Landing strip ground marking or a kite 😁

  20. SMC says:

    It’s an ice berg. Southern ocean maybe?

  21. Phil. says:

    Looks like an ice floe, about 40kmx10km, located around 55ºS 33ºW.
    Must be quite thick because of the change of cloud structure as they pass over it.
    Not far from South Georgia.

  22. Jon Brunson says:


  23. co2isnotevil says:

    It’s interesting how the ice flow is large enough to change the character of the clouds on either side. Both the cloud volume and the area to height ratios have been changed as weather passed over the ice flow. A zoomed out picture would be interesting to see if further down wind, the clouds reverted back.

  24. Philip Mulholland says:

    Its a large tabular iceberg, big enough to be called an ice island.

  25. Alan says:

    Volcanic eruption, or an exceptionally large geyser.

  26. Peter Sommerville says:

    It looks like a cloud formation over a vey large iceberg.

  27. Clyde Spencer says:

    Location, scale, and season would be a big help!

  28. Peter Parke says:

    The image associated with this questionnaire is a large tabular ice berg. The source of the ice berg is almost certainly one of Antarctica’s large ice shelves. The ice berg is in the open ocean, having been carried by an ocean current beyond the pack ice that surrounds the Antarctic continent.

  29. Rodney R Chilton says:

    Could it be some altocumulus clouds over an interesting shaped ice berg?

  30. j chesterfield says:

    just an ice berg

  31. John DeFayette says:

    Some years ago I recall seeing studies and plans for building high altitude giant kites tethered to generators at ground level. The kites would be wound in, then spooled out, harvesting the energy in high altitude, steady winds.

    Is this the real thing in flight?

  32. Shaun says:

    This looks like a glacial lake. Possibly Antarctica. It also looks like thin sea ice but the water is so blue that my best guess is the glacial lake.

  33. Forrest E. Ford III says:

    Aircraft Carrier

  34. Clay says:

    The July, 2017 Larson C Ice Shelf iceberg subsequently later seen from space through Altocumulus floccus clouds. It’s interesting because the berg is about 1 Trillion tons in mass, has angular features, and is uniquely illuminated by sunlight to capture its “whiteness”.

  35. Forrest E. Ford III says:


  36. Forrest E. Ford III says:


  37. Garland Lowe says:

    Aircraft carrier

  38. Harikrishnan says:

    The clouds are stratocumulous. I think it’s not an iceberg because of the shape. Sea is there.

  39. Susanna Catalano says:

    It is an image of a polar (probably north pole) ice berg that has broken off the main shelf. It appears coffin shaped and therefore represents the death of the polar ice cap and also global warming in general.

  40. Walter Starck says:

    A beam of low angle sunlight lighting a cloud layer both directly and from beneath by reflection from water.

  41. Frits Lilbæk says:

    Iceberg Under Clouds, variant (sjrankin) —Google Image search


    Ice, broken off an ice field.

  43. ROM says:

    A misd sized Iceberg that has broken away from one of the Antarctic Ice shelves.

    Which Ice shelf I would probably have to go through a lot of the satellite pics before I could identify its source.

  44. Philippe Myette says:

    Its maybe a plate of ice who sail away from Antartica due to summer start in the south hemisphere.

  45. Petko Popov says:

    This is self-propelled ship(wich is tryed to hided) or dirygible 🙂

  46. Bert Krawchuk says:

    A large iceberg probably broken off an ice shelf.

  47. Anthony Holder says:

    It is the odd rectangular iceberg that I saw other photos of this week, behind the clouds.


  48. Sean Keef says:

    A glacier on an ocean or sea.

  49. Tom Nelson says:

    Iceberg, from Antarctica

  50. James k. finley says:

    The cloud shadows indicate the ice is in northern hemisphere, and the cloud size indicates that the ice is several kilometres in length. The rectilinear shape and flatness shape suggests that it is a detached ice shelf. Could this be part of the Ellesmere Island ice shelf that has been rapidly disintegrating ?

    An interesting meteorological feature is that the ice has influenced the cloud cover presumably due to the condensation over it creating larger cloud units.

  51. Nawfal Al-Bakri says:

    Complex molecules are united and dispersed at the same time A series of complex molecules is difficult to see clearly These complex molecules are made up… I do not want to give you the answer now maybe if I’m invited personally I will do

  52. FieryFly says:

    Its a iceburg floating beneath puffy clouds? I do not know where, but I would suspect somewhere between Antartica and South America

  53. Simon Curthoys says:

    It looks like a large sheet of ice floating in the sea beneath a sky of cumulus clouds.

  54. peter jansen says:

    I think it is a piece of snow covered ice floating.

  55. PJ Minton says:


  56. Tommy says:

    This appears to be a large piece of an ice self that recently broke loose

  57. Luca says:

    Looks like an iceberg..

  58. John Mitrakas says:

    1. Thanks for the images.
    2. It’s an iceberg under the clouds.
    The title it’s from the shape. “Northrop XB-35 in low flight!”

  59. Stephen Murray says:

    Cloud mass

  60. Luis Anastasía says:

    A layer of floating flat ice in the ocean.

  61. Surfer Dave says:

    Antarctic ice berg, large section of an ice shelf that has broken free, from Larsen?

  62. Ryan Masse says:

    I could very well be way off, but to me it looks like a large iceberg partially obscured by some spattered cloud cover. Whether it is an iceberg or not, the interesting thing I noticed is that it resembles the shape of the Star Destroyers from Star Wars!

  63. Arnoud Apituley says:

    This is an iceberg floating in the ocean, broken off of an ice sheet and seen from above through a layer of small cumulus clouds. It is interesting that we can see this, since for observations from space it is often very difficult to distinguish between clouds and ice.

  64. Ayrial Burford says:

    It looks like a coffin to me. Its actually really cool

  65. James Mc Ilvenna says:

    Looking through the clouds at an Iceberg.

  66. giacomo losi says:

    It is an iceberg near Antarctica

  67. Michael Beaulac says:

    The photo is of the iceberg B-15T, an 18.5 year remnant of its parent, B-15. current location is in the South Atlantic between South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Lot of interesting things to say about this one. It made a near circumference of the Antarctica prior to being spun off first by the Weddell Sea gyre which sent it north, then the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which funnels through the Drake Passage, then steered the iceberg toward the east and its current location. It has numerous collisions with other icebergs and the Ross Ice Shelf. Due to its current location, it will melt rapidly until it disappears.

  68. Andrew says:

    Either a coffin or an Imperial Star Destroyer.

  69. Jeremy Scarlett says:

    If the image is in optical wavelengths then it may be a section of ice shelf, broken off and floating in the ocean. If it’s IR then I’d go for an aircraft carrier. By the shape I’d initially go for the latter option, but from the effect on the clouds the former. The effect on the clouds is interesting. The wind is almost certainly carrying the clouds, quite gently, from upper left to lower right of the photograph and the object, whatever it is, is fragmenting the larger cloud sections into smaller ones. A ship would not be big enough to do this. From the scale of the clouds I estimate the feature as at least a mile long. If it were an IR image of a carrier, the carrier is at uniform temperature across its entire upper surface, at which point I abandon the carrier notion entirely. No eddies have been produced in the clouds, suggesting the feature is flat; significant prominences would cause the same sort of eddies in passing cloud which volcanic islands produce. An alternative possibility could be an artificial island/dock, but with no visible features whatsoever I don’t buy it. One evident problem with the ice shelf fragment idea is the angle at which the sunlight is causing shadows of the clouds on the surface beneath; I estimate roughly 45 degrees, which, even with the most favourable 23 degree seasonal tilt, puts it well clear of the poles and almost into temperate waters: possible, but rare. The surfeit of straight lines and symmetry gives an artificial air as well, but ice shelf fragments often show these. There also appear to be two discontinuities at the top of the feature (the ramp-like appearance suggests carrier), partially obscured by the clouds. These add to the aircraft carrier effect, but it’s just much too big for that. My money is on a floating ice shelf fragment well clear of its parent shelf, photographed in a stable weather system, with light winds blowing down and right across the image, with thermal effects (or lack thereof, rather) from the cold bright surface beneath generating reverse convection on the clouds, fragmenting them as they fall and drift past.


    Parece ser que el Antártico es el cementerio de los iceberg.
    La acumulación del hielo persistente en el Polo Sur nos da tranquilidad.

  71. Timp says:

    Interesting is the clouds are getting bigger going over the iceberg.
    (Or if they move from left they get smaller.)