Earth Matters

EO February 2021 Puzzler

February 16th, 2021 by Andi Brinn Thomas
EO’s February 2021 Puzzler

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The February 2021 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. A few days 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!

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40 Responses to “EO February 2021 Puzzler”

  1. KR Martin says:

    Fields after harvest, wheat, oats, lentils maybe corn?

  2. Tom H says:

    I think this is in Southern Utah , either in the west near Zion or the eastern portion near Canyon lands.

  3. Giulia says:

    The wave Utah

  4. Jeff Davis says:

    I believe it’s some dessert area, possibly in the eastern Arabian country.

    • WB Leatham says:

      Iron oxide stained/cemented siliciclastics are common in may arid regions, around the world, and not just near the arabian peninsula.

  5. Alex Young says:

    The Wave canyon in Arizona?

  6. Gerold Dreyer says:

    Eine hocharide Landschaft, die dennoch stark von Wasser geformt wurde. Das ist leicht möglich, weil eine schützende Vegetation fehlt. Es scheint sich um eine Hitzewüste zu drehen mit keinerlei Vegetation. Atacama, Sahara, Arabien, Takla Makan u. a. Genauer kann ich es nicht einordnen. Oder sollte das eine Teiloberfläche vom Mars sein?? Ich tippe aber auf eine Erdwüste.

    • WB Leatham says:

      Probably can count Mars out as a solution. Deep arid arroyos seem to be present as a dendritic drainage occurring across fairly continuous, horizontally stratified “bedrock”.

  7. Sushobhan Saha says:

    An inland water body or reservoir that’s dried up

  8. Paulo Machado says:

    That’s the wave in arizona/utah, I was there a couple months ago and hiked all the way to the wave, it was an amazing day but one of my friends got lost, I’m glad we found her by the end of the hike though

  9. Ricardo Rivera Colon says:

    Devon Island, Described as one of the most (Mars Like) places on Earth and most beautiful places to see.

    Maybe it could also be Sahara Desert, located in Africa

    Remember there’s a lot of places that looks like Mars on Earth but I’m pretty sure it’s Devon Desert…

  10. Kenneth R Chapman says:

    Okay I’ll bite. There is a large region in Australia around the borders of SE Northern Territory, NE South Australia, and SW Queensland that may be a contender. Difficult to narrow down but I’ll give it a go. Witjira National Park area in north central South Australia, near border with Northern Territory is my best guess. Second best guess is Astrebla Downs National Park area of SW Queensland.

  11. Khushi says:

    Desert maybe

  12. Rob M says:

    Gold mine dump , south africa.

  13. Lorenzo Luiz De Souza says:

    Isn’t that wood? That’s definitely wood

  14. Seth Henderson says:

    It must be Jezero Crater. Mars. Location of the Perseverance landing site. Looks like deep valleys. The sunlight is coming from the top left of the photo. Does this image show the planned path of Perseverance? Former lakebed. Likely location of former life – if any.

  15. Charles Morgan says:

    My guess is the Gobi desert .

  16. Charles Morgan says:

    My guess it’s the Gobi desert . Looks like it could be from another planetary body.

  17. Christina says:

    1st guess: Desert in Sahara or Africa
    2nd guess: Tree trunk or wood
    Looks more like wood

  18. Dan Reiswig says:

    I believe it is an ice-flow (probably in the Pyrenees or Alps) coated with dust from a recent Sahara dust storm.

  19. Shaifali says:

    It is looking like surface of mars

  20. Tilak says:

    Part of a tree trunk carved at angles to show branches and annular rings.

  21. Mangesh dongre says:

    Tree hardwood

  22. Evgeniia says:

    Namib desert dunes?

  23. Paulette Schraps says:

    This is Martian landscape & canyon area on the surface, which appears to depict where at one time there was a body of water there and it had evaporated, because of the way that the rock or surface dirt is aligned.

  24. Paul says:

    Palouse – Eastern Washington – wheat fields

  25. PM says:

    Tanezrouft Basin in Algerian Sahara. See NASA image on the Nasa app (which is brilliant by the way! Thanks!): ‘Land of Terror’, 10-14-2014. NB excellent observation that it looks like wood grain. Have not been able to find the spot on the available Earth viewing apps though, including Nasa’s Earth Observatory…

    • PM says:

      PS. Forgot to say it is interesting (working assumption at mo’) because it looks like sedimentary basin undisturbed by tectonics (African shield?), which has undergone climate transition from wet conditions (‘Green Sahara’?) to desert, with wind erosion.

  26. Greg Resnick says:

    I think it is a micro photo of a carved and partially sanded piece of wood in the lab at earth observatory.. G

  27. Carolina says:

    I think what we can see is a plateau, formed by multiple different layers of sediment, that where than shaped and formed by wind erosion. Thats how the topography war made.

  28. Dan espi says:

    The picture is of the ancient tree from 42,000 years ago that was just recently cut and determined how long ago it was that the Earth’s magnetic polar field has reversed

  29. John Northcott says:

    The Siberian Traps

  30. Emre Özalp says:

    While I can’t make a guess about location, I should say that this image looks like a contour line defining lengths in geography

  31. Chris lambiase says:

    There was once (maybe multiple times )an incredibly large glacial lake behind an ice dam. When it broke it left the marks on the landscape as it rapidly drained. See glacial lake missoula for a similar event.

  32. Kaylee T says:

    It is a either a really old tree stump, or a desert, or a desert that has been friven on. I think it is interesting because it is really weird and cool!!

  33. Csaba Aszalos says:

    Me and my son have been in a similar place where there was a large valley, fairly closed/surrounded by tall hills and a small lake at the bottom of the valley. We were at the top of the hills and head down on the hill towards the lake. The side of the hill had/has parallel stripes like steps, about one meter wide or less. Similar to the image, just at a smaller scale. The sides of the valley are covered in grass but underneath the soil looks like it has more clay in it. My explanation is that the place and the place in the posted image was in the past, maybe millions of years ago either a very large lake or the remnant of a sea and as the water level dropped each year it created a step, like the steps created by ocean waves. There was some event each year, like melting snow in the spring or summer that caused a sudden rise in water level that eroded the top of the wall where water exited the lake. The height of the wall erosion probably equals the height of the steps. The width of the steps is a function of the slope. This wall erosion caused the water level in the lake to decrease after the sudden rise event subsided. The same could have happen with a river valley if the river was a giant river in the past with massive floods in the spring or summer if the flood lasted for a few months. It might be that the river itself is a natural creation of this long lasting cycle – the exit path of the water towards the sea, the union of the exits of all the decreasing lakes. But the lake/basin theory is more precise. The stripes that go from top to bottom of the valley in the posted image are also from erosion but only as a later event after the exposed part was out of the water permanently.

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