Earth Matters

August Puzzler

August 19th, 2019 by Adam Voiland

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The August 2019 puzzler is above. 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!

See our Canadian Canola Fields Image of the Day for the answer. Congratulations to Rebecca Evermon for being the first reader to recognize that the image showed canola fields.

39 Responses to “August Puzzler”

  1. Jim Ruebush says:

    I have no idea of the exact location. But, I live in Iowa USA. This looks like the mile squares that grid most of our state. I read once that the total driveable miles in IA are farther that the total Interstate miles in the whole country. As the crow flies holds profound meaning here.

  2. John Morales says:

    It looks like a false color image used to determine how much crop land has been planted and is covered with actively growing crops and what acreage has been left fallow.

  3. Lori Carpenter says:

    This looks like an agricultural field using an NDVI filter to look at Crop health or crop type. This looks like a non crow crop maybe grains or soy beans surrounded by greener crops of alfalfa or grass.

  4. Jon Cradit says:

    It appears to be in the northern mid section of the U.S. The image shows the area was surveyed in Township and Range and there appears to be glacial scares in a linear pattern on a flat area that is now heavily farmed.

  5. Herb Piller says:

    The ag fields of northwest Iowa

  6. Lori says:

    Iowa cornfields. They are dwindling.

  7. Sonal Kumar says:

    Attached image is a seaweed farming at Lembongan Island Seaweed which is located between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida,Bali,Indonesia.
    Seaweed “farms” are basically square patches of seabed which are marked out by lines of bamboo pegs driven into the sand.
    The harvesting process takes place at low tide and this is when you can see the farmers wading out in the shallow waters and returning with their heavily laden baskets which are literally bursting with seaweed. Their heavy loads are then sorted according to the colour of the seaweed and laid out on canvas sheets to dry in the sun.
    The seaweed industry in Lembongan is slowly ebbing away as more locals move into tourism but it is still possible to see the seaweed farms in Jungut Batu and in the Channel between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.

  8. Jeff Kniaz says:

    Sunflower farms.

  9. Roxana T. says:

    Landsat 8 with Operational Land Imager (OLI),, Natural color combination (RGB,, bands 4-3-2 in L8), dark green in the image indicates greater vigor content in the vegetation, it could have been seen better with a combination with bands NIR, Red and Green (false color composition)

  10. Lisa Bergen says:

    Canola fields are the yellow squares. The green squares are intact forest stands of parkland and/or boreal eco-regions. The yellow is likely private land and the green is likely Crown or Public lands. What’s interesting is you can see potholes (wetlands), the drainage, and the scrape marks of receding glaciers from the last ice age.

  11. Ivan Kordač says:

    Řepka olejka … kam se podíváš…

    čtverce napovídají území spojených států s charakteristickým rozdělením pozemků, malá říčka kolem pouze mírně narušující “dokonalý” obraz šachovnice…

    Oilseed rape … where you look …

    squares suggest the territory of the United States with a characteristic division of land, a small river around only slightly distorting the “perfect” chessboard image …

  12. Ana Popovici says:

    Rice fields

  13. Rachel Hollinger says:

    It’s a picture of fields with crops.

  14. Tom Wolfskeel says:

    Dutch fields that farmers grow groceries and keep cattle.

  15. Graham Cross says:

    Farmed areas in the east of the Sahara.

  16. Prem says:

    Oceans floor

  17. Leo says:

    Looks like a crop field in France lol ?

  18. Urska says:


  19. Keta says:

    The symmetry of the plots makes me think this is farmland in the American mid-west.

  20. Matthew Swartout says:

    They are farm/crop fields.

  21. Drew says:


  22. Pooja M harti says:

    Beautiful green farm lands with houses here and there.

  23. Thrinesh says:

    It’s just a home’s tile. Not a sattilite picture.

  24. Prachi says:

    Looks like farms in either California or Northern Italy. This is what would be the output of our Ag product at my office (TWC, IBM)

  25. Abdullah Alwan says:

    Agricultural fields, some of which were harvested and some were not harvested?

  26. Bedaanntica paul says:

    Maybe a farm in india

  27. Bedaanntica paul says:

    Maybe a farm in india or other country

  28. Amanda Fagundes de Ávila says:

    Mata da atlântica na Amazônia. Área de desmatamento.

  29. diego requena says:

    a de ser un campo dividido entre las tierras de diferentes granjeros o tambien algunas zonas mas fertiles que otras.

  30. Preston Jones says:

    This appears to be an image of corn and soybean fields in the mid-western US, which have experienced historic flooding this year. The image is interesting because the saturated soil conditions have likely resulted in a lack of nutrient availability for the crops, resulting in the yellow coloration seen here. This condition is known as chlorosis and is quite detrimental to plant health.

  31. Aimee Mayer says:

    I think it is a photo of the prairies or farmland in the midwest USA and the study is to determine flooding potential.

  32. JT says:

    Not sure where the exact location is, but is looks like it could be in the Upper Midwest (ND, SD, MN, IA, WI, IL, MI, IN, OH) where the most recent glaciation left prairie potholes which are wetland areas often having linear subsurface drainage. These are have been extensively tilled and farmed throughout the Upper Midwest. The grid pattern arises from the land surveyed on a square-mile section grid, often surrounded by gravel road on all four sides. Individual sections have been further broken up by half, quarter, eighth, etc.

  33. Rebecca Evermon says:

    These are the canola fields south east of Regina Saskatchewan. I think they look like a variegated green Mondrian with out the black lines. It could be a great idea for a painting.

  34. A.H. Ehsani says:

    This is not a satellite image. it is just something like tiles which is been used to cover kitchen wall or … . the line between tiles is so obvious .. the exact square size of patches and different pattern between them which is not Homogenous are my reasons.

  35. Terri says:

    Canola fields in flower

  36. Steve Dunbar says:

    I’d say its a buestrophredonic grid of various aliquout parts, mostly 640acre sections (plus or minus, one mile square less longitudinal convergance, random error, and riperian boundaries), quarter sections etc. In a heavily agricultural U.S.P.L.S.S. public lands survey system state. I’d guess cornfields in Iowa or Nebraska, not versed in satellite photogrammetry further.

  37. Flo says:

    Hi, it seem rice fields.
    I think that different kind of green tonality is linked to different kind of rice planted, or different state of ripeness – and this is the first interesting aspect. The second interesting aspect is linked to the perfect square: for sure linked to the history of that place. Is it the Po Valley in the north-west of Italy?

  38. Karen says:

    Possibly this is LiDAR imagery that has not yet been ortho-rectified for a study of the health of plant life and ground water in this particular area