This Week’s “Where In The Universe” Challenge

by Nancy Atkinson on July 23, 2008

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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.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

byron July 23, 2008 at 1:43 PM

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.

Jorge July 23, 2008 at 1:52 PM

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… :)

Dark Gnat July 23, 2008 at 1:53 PM

Yeah, the water kinda gave it away…

Tim July 23, 2008 at 4:10 PM

I acuallty guessed Tibet i was right for a change.

James July 23, 2008 at 4:30 PM

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.

Nexus July 23, 2008 at 4:34 PM

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.

dominion July 23, 2008 at 4:59 PM

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

Astrofiend July 23, 2008 at 5:18 PM

Got Tibet and the spacecraft. Yiieeew!

unique_stephen July 23, 2008 at 5:37 PM

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

RL July 23, 2008 at 8:45 PM

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.

Kootstar July 23, 2008 at 11:21 PM

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.

astrocrazy July 24, 2008 at 2:43 AM

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…

Yoo July 24, 2008 at 6:46 AM

At least I got the planet right …

ioresult July 24, 2008 at 7:26 AM
neoguru July 24, 2008 at 11:50 AM

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.

Jano (9 yo) July 24, 2008 at 3:25 PM

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

Govinda July 24, 2008 at 7:52 PM

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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