where-in-the-universe-13

Where In the Universe?

This Week’s “Where In The Universe” Challenge

23 Jul , 2008 by

It’s Wednesday, so that means its time for another “Where In The Universe” challenge to test your visual knowledge of the cosmos. Guess the location of this image, and give yourself extra points if you can name the spacecraft responsible for the photo. Remember, you have 8 planets, 169 known moons, a handful of dwarf planets (there’s a new one!) and lots of asteroids in our solar system to choose from. We’re also up to over 300 known exoplanets now; however we don’t have the capability to image them quite yet, so you can cross them off your potential answer list. Don’t cheat – make your guess before you look below!


On October 13, 2000, the Expedition 3 crew of the International Space Station, took this interesting photo of the Brahmaputra River in Tibet. This river carves a narrow west-east valley between the Tibetan Plateau to the north and the Himalaya Mountains to the south, as it rushes eastward for more than 1,500 km in southwestern China. The 15-km stretch shown here is about 35 km south of the ancient Tibetan capital of Lhasa. As you can see the river flow becomes intricately braided as it works and reworks its way through extensive deposits of erosional material. This pattern indicates a combination heavy sediment discharge from tributaries and reduction of the river’s flow from either a change in gradient or perhaps even climate conditions over the watershed. The area is also known for strong, persistent westerly winds which also shapes the region.

Photos such as this one bring immediate visual understanding and appreciation of natural processes in some of the most remote locations on Earth.

How did you do?

More info on this image.

By  -        
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.


17 Responses

  1. byron says:

    Considering you can see roads and man groomed land masses its not hard to tell this is on earth.

    Tibet wasn’t my first guess though.

  2. Jorge says:

    This is the Earth, of course, and I’d venture a guess of the ISS in the spacecraft department. But beyond that…

    Mountainous and dry area with rivers flowing through? Somewhere in Central Asia, perhaps? Afghanistan? Or maybe in some area in the Andes? Let’s read the rest of the post now…

    Ah, Tibet. Nice. Almost spot on… :)

  3. Dark Gnat says:

    Yeah, the water kinda gave it away…

  4. Tim says:

    I acuallty guessed Tibet i was right for a change.

  5. James says:

    I knew it was Earth…! I didn’t guess ISS or Tibet, though. I never think I could guess the spacecraft right, even though the ISS should have been the obvious guess.

  6. Nexus says:

    The river was a dead giveaway. Admittedly there’s liquid-formed features on Mars and Titan, but nothing like this. It could only be Earth.

  7. dominion says:

    Yay! Finally got one right. Planet and the ISS part anyway. I thought it was Alaska.

  8. Astrofiend says:

    Got Tibet and the spacecraft. Yiieeew!

  9. It had to be earth – thats a classic braided stream. Lots of sediment and lots of water. Correct me if I’m wrong but when I look at Mars I see fan like density flows, not sediments like this

  10. RL says:

    WooHoo! This is the closest I’ve ever been. I said Earth, although I thought it was China. The pictures look similar to the pictures taken of the dammed water from that big earthquake. I thought it was taken by the space shuttle.

  11. Kootstar says:

    Lo and behold, I finally guessed one (almost ) right. I figured Earth and ISS, but had three possibles that none matched this well enough. But at least this was in real eye contact coloration. That helped alot.

  12. astrocrazy says:

    I had two guesses – one was some valley in Mars or our own Himalayan glaciers…Guess i was a little closer this time….
    Thanks for these stimulating thoughts…

  13. Yoo says:

    At least I got the planet right …

  14. neoguru says:

    Still only 3 wrong (not counting spacecraft or extra points). Earth’s high altitude mountains are obvious. Glacial, meandering stream with braded pattern. Yikes! Rows of trees and a road on the far right! Very nice.

  15. Jano (9 yo) says:

    I knew it was the Earth!!!
    I spotted the roads

  16. Govinda says:

    Finally,
    I got the planet and spacecraft both right!
    This is one of my favourite weekly things from the net.
    Thanks.

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