Earth Matters

December Puzzler

December 12th, 2022 by Kathryn Hansen

Update: This puzzler image shows Valletta, the capital city of Malta. Congratulations to James Ruebush for being the first reader to correctly identify the location. Special mention goes to Gabor Szucs and John McPherson for adding interesting details about Valletta. Read more about the city in our December 20, 2022, Image of the Day.

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 offer details about 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 on the International Space Station, but we can promise you credit and glory. Well, maybe just credit. Within a 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. 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 have 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!

66 Responses to “December Puzzler”

  1. Hollis says:

    Stadium in Qatar?

  2. James Ruebush says:

    At the top is Valetta on the island of Malta.

  3. Ivan Kordač says:

    MALTA international airport and sport center (golf) by Valleta harbour…

    first moment what I registered… 🙂

  4. Lacibacsi says:


  5. Tom says:

    I think it’s Malta Island of Gozo

  6. Austin Osuide says:

    Malta; Vuelta port.
    Was submarine base for the British Army in the Mediteranian sea.

  7. Gabor Szucs says:

    Malta, La Valetta on top-center, Paola, Tarxien with Megalicital Temples can be see, and the trritory near full habitat, and one colour because tha houses made by from one type stone.

  8. Dr. Pintér Csaba says:

    Málta sziget egy része.

  9. Piroska Papp says:


  10. Érdi Attila says:

    Málta Grand Harbour

  11. B.Krisztian says:

    Monte Carlo

  12. József Kocsis says:


  13. Andras Koncsek says:

    This picture is about Malta more correctly south of the island, from St. Venera – Paola – Valletta – Three cities, airport at the bottom of the image. Tiny little island but many of a great location to enjoy the view of the sea or some nature.

  14. Gábor Nacsaszta says:


  15. Dávid Csonka says:

    Malta, Valletta. Easy. ?

  16. Istvan Barta says:

    Malta (la Valletta, Marsa and Malta International Airport)

  17. Dávid Kovács says:

    This is Malta, the vicinity around Valletta, and we can also see the Malta International Airport.

    For me it was interesting, because in the summer it was really dry in spite of being an island in the Mediterranean sea.

  18. Császi Imre Zsolt says:


  19. Klosz says:


  20. Császi Imre Zsolt says:

    Italy Malta

  21. Csaba Szöllősi says:


  22. Csizmazia József says:

    This is Malta

  23. Otto says:


  24. Robert Finch says:

    The image is that of Valletta Malta ?? with the three Cities on it’s right.
    The international airport can also be seen at the bottom of the image.

  25. Peter Minton says:

    Malta, the harbor at Valletta.

  26. Manny Espinoza says:

    That’s Malta! Valletta!

    I like to mispronounce it “Valveeta” and gross myself out.

  27. Vijay says:

    Brazil/Amazon River entry area near Atlantic Ocean

  28. Tor Fosnaes says:

    Bergen, Norway
    My birthplace

  29. csaladipotlek says:


  30. Barry Sharp says:

    I think the picture is of Malta and it’s sister Island Gozo. I had a holiday there in September. Didn’t see it from this angle though.

  31. Deb Larsen says:

    Hilly, populous, port city. Rome, Italy.

  32. Steve Harris says:

    The fingered harbor upper left is the harbor of Valletta, the capital of Malta. Having been there I can say that the harbor is a striking site with old buildings crowding all of the waters’ edges. Very old walled city.

  33. Charlene Q says:

    I’m going to say image of Malta and Gozo taken from the International Space Station.

  34. John G. McPherson says:

    This is the beautiful town of Marsa and the harbour of Valletta on the northeastern coast of Malta. You can tell from the layout of the town shown and the harbour that these are ancient towns and are from the Old World. From the vegetation and the rocks/soil, which are red, you can deduce that the region has a semi-arid climate, which suggests the Mediterranean. The harbour opens to the northeast, which further refines the possibilities in the Mediterranean. A quick scout of a Mediterranean map pinpoints Malta.

  35. Christopher J. Stephens says:

    That’s Valletta! I recognized it because I’m going to Malta next year, and when I was planning the trip originally, in the Before Times, I used satellite images to figure out where I wanted to stay and which hotels were in the most interesting locations. Also, when my mother was young, she stopped over in Malta on a trip from England to Aden (where she ended up meeting my father), so whenever Malta comes up in conversation, she says “Malta? I had lunch there once!” I am looking forward to having lunch in Malta, too.

  36. Michael McVey says:

    This is an image of the lovely avaletta in Malta. To me what was interesting was the fact that you can see the ledges and parks interwoven into the population centers and I suppose what else would be interesting for or from a satellite perspective is the number of deep bays suitable for transportation and docking of large ships.

    This is my 1st time playing your puzzler so the next time I’ll be ready with more interesting spectral band commentary.

  37. Susan Arnold says:

    The picture is of the Malta coast and harbor.

  38. Susana B. Adamo says:

    Valletta, Malta. The airport is visible in the lower left corner.
    The city of Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

  39. Anirudh says:

    I think this is Valletta, Malta

  40. David Redfern says:

    It’s Valletta in Malta.
    It’s a very deep harbour…used in WWII to protect the Allied fleet.

  41. Herbolee says:


  42. Csilla Peter says:

    Malta International Airport

  43. György Sziget says:

    Málta La Valetta

  44. Fiona Veen says:

    Wild Guess – Red Sea ” the ocean with a forked tongue “

  45. Angelika Ilsch says:

    This looks Mediterranean: it’s Malta

  46. Lenka Kleger says:

    I think this is Malta – Valletta. Late summer perhaps?

  47. Simon Erceg says:

    Looks like Valetta in eastern Malta 🙂

  48. Balazs Reko says:

    Fort Bragg, California, USA.

  49. Chris Coles says:

    Halifax Nova Scotia

  50. Kellner Jakab says:

    Malta Valletta

  51. Birgitta M Fringes Md PhD says:

    This is La Valetta , Malta with its wonderful Natural haven.

  52. PETER WALKER says:

    The December Puzzler is taken over Valetta, the capital city of the island state of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. The name Malta is thought to be a from the Greek word Melite, meaning “Honey sweet” since the island has a unique specie of bees. In the photograph, between the harbour and the airport is a large nearly oval golf course and an earth race track used for trotting (harness racing) which is a very popular pass-time on the island.
    The island has many historical sites and ruins which illustrate its long history of occupation ranging from early Neolithic ruins (5300 years BC) through occupations by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Italian, French (Napolean) and English and finally independence in 1964. It is a member of the European Union and uses the Euro as currency.

  53. Rudolf 453 says:

    It’s the Airport of Malta (lower left side) and Valetta with its harbour (upper middle side).

    I never was there, but my daughter was there and she described a bit from that town. It’s the look of a old medieval town with a fortress and nearby to the sea, so my idea was perfectly right . . .

    Rudolf 453

  54. Pete Spurr says:

    The photo is of the town of Gozo in Malta

  55. John Takolander says:

    Looks like Shanghai.

  56. MJensen says:

    The top central portion of the image is the Grand Harbor in Valletta, Malta. The large number of piers visible reflects the boat centric culture of being in the Mediterranean.

  57. Jozsef Csurja says:

    Valletta, Malta Europe

  58. John Holton says:

    Valletta harbor, Malta. An attractive jurisdiction for ship registry, but I don’t know why. Probably a lax tax and regulation environment. We visited there once. Beautiful city.

  59. György Polácsek says:

    The picture shows Malta. In the south-eastern part of the island, where La Valletta peninsula can be seen at the top of the picture, and you can see above it a small island (“underneath” the Sliema district), Manoel Island.One month ago, my family and I spent a wonderful week in Malta. The airport can be seen in the lower left corner of the picture. We love Malta very much, it was the third time we were there. The picture (and Malta) is interesting to me because, as you can see, it is quite densely built-up, but at the same time barren, there is not much vegetation, but it still has a wonderful Mediterranean atmosphere and the weather is always nice.

  60. Tony Blanks says:

    The image is of teh Garnd Harbour, Vallettta, Malta. Unfortunately I have no idea why it is significant.


    Tony B
    Hobart, Tasmania

  61. Lajos Nagy says:

    Valletta, Malta

  62. Bryce Carter says:

    Looks like the Grand Harbour area of Marsa, Malta.

  63. Anni Halas says:

    It is the south-eastern part of island Malta, the biggest island of the Malta archipelago, Europe.

  64. John Mitrakas says:

    Αχ Malta

  65. Simon Graeme says:

    Malta. Grand Harbour and Valetta at the top and the runway at Luqa Airport visible to the bottom left of the image.

  66. Erzsebet Bakos says:

    Valetta, Málta