Earth Matters

February EO Satellite Puzzler

February 4th, 2020 by Mike Carlowicz

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The February 2020 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. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy, tell us about it.

The prize. We cannot 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!

26 Responses to “February EO Satellite Puzzler”

  1. Reginald Caton says:

    I am not sure but I think it is Antarctica. Maybe it is the glacial ice under the King George VI Ice shelf that is being studied because of its instability.

  2. Vlad says:

    Sand dunes in shallow waters

  3. Steffano de Paula Severino says:

    The following image was acquired by Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 and show us the Chukchi Sea (Alaskan coast).Landsat 8 is collecting valuable data and imagery used in agriculture, education, business, science, and government and provides repetitive acquisition of high resolution multispectral data of the Earth’s surface on a global basis.

  4. Alex says:

    The Antarctic convergence zone? Where the colder Antarctic water meets warmer subantarctic water

  5. Stephen says:

    I think this is the northern lights reflecting off the ice. The place is somewhere like Greenland or the North Pole.

  6. Lee Azimi says:

    This is part of NASA satellite image of Phytoplankton bloom that was captured east of New Zealand in October 2009.

  7. Linda Baron says:

    Looks like algae bloom. Great Lakes?

  8. Harry says:

    It’s the northern lights being reflected on the snow

  9. Abinesh T says:

    I think it may be a desert, there is some white dots have some trace of vehicle tracks. Somewhere arab country, Saudi Arabia, dubai. like that.. Desert car drifting game

  10. Heba Gadallah says:

    Deep ocean

  11. Hemad says:

    it’s an iced ocean

  12. Prakash Chauhan says:

    This image is a true colour composite of blue, green and red spectral bands showing mixing of fresh river water with more saline sea water. The light blue colours indicate presence of fresh water in shallow environment. The image seems to lave a resolution of around 30m ( may be a Landsat 8 ) image. The another specular phenomenon which is seen are presence of intense internal waves caused by density driven mixing of saline waters and fresh waters.

    It is difficult to guess the location, but looks like Andaman Sea where Irrawadi river water meets dense waters of Bay of Bengal.

    Thank you.

  13. Ned Hawks says:

    True color image multi day composite of wave refraction around reefs in the south Pacific or Bahamas with sun glint in the image. .

  14. Lawrence Mazzotti says:

    I believe these are waters just off the coast of the Bahamas or another Caribbean island.

  15. Zainab says:

    I think it’s an image of fine particles of pulverized rock which absorb and scatter sunlight in ways that can give water that striking blue-green color. Or it might be patches of blue-hued ice emerge where wind and evaporation have scoured glaciers clean of snow. The translucent, wind-polished surface reflects a stunning turquoise color when the polar sun peeks above the horizon. And Antarctica is the only place on Earth with these incredible stretches of blue ice.
    It’s hard to tell the exact location though. The image is probably taken by a satellite or a drone.

  16. Jean Fernandez says:

    Looks like seawaves made by an earthquake(or seaquake), and i can imagine that they are about to touch a beach or seashore down. So the colors are not natural but are the result of some kind of instrument which can measure heigths.

  17. Dian Pangestu says:

    From the picture, it’s really amazing from the color of the sea water that happened because the combination of the shallow sea and the deep sea was very very beautiful for me

  18. Dorothy Carlsson says:

    I ? think it’s about Northern lights in arctics I think I can lokate Scandinavia. And it’s special kind of ice. It’s never melts but it’s dissappear. I’m sorry for my English. Maybe I return and say the name of the ice in Scandinavian. Dorothy.

  19. James Simard says:

    Going out on a limb but I’m thinking these are the blue dunes of Mars.

  20. Eric Bissoon says:

    I think that this image is of the Antarctic Ocean. More specifically it seems to be an image taken by the Terra EOS (earth observation satellite) looking at the wake caused by a seafaring vessel (the rythmic and uniform ripples I think is the key to deciphering this image). The glow that can be observed in the image is possibly that of bioluminescent organisms – dinoflagellates the most likely assumption – disturbed by the passing surface vessel. Not all natural reactions caused by humans are negative. In this case the disturbance is quite beautiful and noteworthy.

    Of course I can be completely wrong in all of my assumptions.

  21. Henry Crawford says:

    To me… This image looks like wind driven waves interacting with variable bathymetry (e.g. submerged canyons, shoals, ridges). I work in the coastal geomorphology field and want to believe the changing color is the mixing of ocean waters with sediment runoff from the coast, maybe a large river mouth or post storm flood runoff. I can also picture algal blooms forming from nutrient rich ice sheet runoff in the poles. Extremely beautiful either way!

  22. Nay Win Shein says:

    14.6820594, 97.7705764
    This location is in Myanmar Coast.
    I know well because I have grown up on land nearby.
    Now, Myanmar Government is trying to setup one Deep Sea port and Industrial zone where is 50km away from here. So called Dawei Special economic zone.
    After this development, the scene will change definitely, I believe.

  23. rammurthygaade says:

    This is the coastal earth with lot of fungal and sea floor land

  24. viyet says:


  25. mars lover says:

    what is that? mars?

  26. Alejandro Simeoni says:

    la imagen es de agua marina, posiblemente reflejando ondas internas (Internal waves ) formadas entre capas marinas de distinta densidad y salinidad. se pueden observar unos puntos claros que pueden ser embarcaciones pequeñas.