Earth Matters

July 2019 Puzzler

July 23rd, 2019 by Kathryn Hansen

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. This month we are skipping the natural-color satellite image and showing something out of the ordinary. But we assure you: it came from a NASA satellite. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what we are looking at, where it is, 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.

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

Good luck!

21 Responses to “July 2019 Puzzler”

  1. Deborah Stein Zweers says:

    Looks like a lidar return for ice surface height, where the interesting flat part near the middle could meltwater river flowing between ice terrain features.

  2. S.Ali Ahmadi says:

    I think it’s a lidar data and it’s showing elevations.

  3. Ian Jackson says:

    The Great Wall of China.

  4. Kelvin W Nicolle says:

    I think it is a cross section of two rivers with stop banks small stream on left side and wide open channel in center

  5. Jeffrey Hair says:

    That looks like a cross section of the vocano, Mount Michael, with a lava lake in it, one of seven known on earth.

    Love the website. Thanks for it!

  6. Dave Lusby says:

    Profile of a lake basin on Titan, showing raised rim and liquid fill.

  7. Brian Rohde says:

    I think it’s the Mid-Atlantic Ridge…

  8. Auke Schilder says:

    A cross-section of a volcano with a crater lake

  9. Mike Guilbert says:

    Cross section across Mississippi River. Perhaps in New Orleans. The river bed (center) is higher than the floodplain, a consequence of building the levees ever higher to contain the river. As such, the river is now even more likely to cause catastrophic flooding when a portion of the levee fails.

  10. Reg caton says:

    It is a cross section of an area of the Earth’s surface from a new orbiter using lidar.
    This across a dammed lake in a South American country.

  11. wylie cox says:

    That’s a profile view of the mid-oceanic spreading ridge, probably in the Atlantic. 🙂

  12. Jin says:

    Earth’s waves, Earth’s voices, Earth’s heart sounds

  13. Deacon says:

    My guess is Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf which is the focus of several researches concerning ocean warming.

  14. Matt Wool says:

    That looks like a cross section of a mid ocean ridge.

  15. Brendan M says:

    ICESat-2 lidar point cloud. Perhaps over a volcanic caldera?

  16. Teresa Martínez says:

    Considero que es la sección transversal de una elevación donde se percibe en la parte central un cauce. Lo interesante es que se ve plano, es decir, posiblemente habrá tenido depósitos de algún liquido en estado solido, no necesariamente agua, e hizo que se “alisara” la superficie del cauce. Debido a las elevaciones e interesantes pendientes de la orografía de la parte “oeste” del perfil, interpreto que pueden ser rocas de importante actividad volcánica, o bien, rocas de origen ígneo; entre tanto, la parte “este” del perfil se observa una superficie más “suave”, menos abrupta, lo que podría ser algún deposito de material, o mayor exposición a erosión eólica, hídrica que ha permitido el desgaste del material rocoso.

  17. Allan Liu says:

    The satellite is looking at a crater lake.

  18. Randy Watson says:

    Crater Lake Oregon profile as recorded by ICESat-2
    The flat section in the middle is water, a clearly defined upper surface with some fuzziness below. Due to subsurface reflection? Most lakes or rivers do not have steep cliffs on both sides and the surface going down on both sides show the lake is at the top of a hill or mountain. The slope matches Crater Lake, south on the left and north on the right.
    The ICESat-2 LIDAR point cloud is distinctive from previous EO photos.

  19. Susan Rogers says:

    Looks like a fault zone, such as one might find on the mid-Atlantic ridge. It is interesting in that it shows where tectonic plates are pulling apart, or being spread by mantle material rising to the surface (convection current).

  20. Steppen Murphy says:

    A cross section of Olympus Mons on Mars with caldera in the middle