With all the excitement of Phoenix’s successful landing and subsequent activities, I almost forgot that its time for another “Where In The Universe” challenge. So, I’ve been blazing across the internet, trying to shoot off another version of this challenge without causing a conflagration or bursting into spontaneous human combustion (OK, I know that doesn’t really happen, but it fits here.)
I have to admit this image is really unusual. It almost looks like something found painted on a cave wall, but this is an actual image taken of the surface of a planetary body. It’s time to make your guesses, and no peeking below before you do…..
This image was chosen in honor of Phoenix. Still puzzled?
These are fire scars in an Australian desert. This image was taken in November of 2002 by a crew member on board the International Space Station. These unusual bright orange fire scars show up on the underlying sand dunes in the Simpson Desert, 300 kilometers east of Alice Springs. The background is an intricate pattern of sand cordons that angle across the view from lower left to upper right. These cordons are mostly green in this image, showing that, although they were once shifting, they have become more or less staticâ€”â€œtied downâ€ by a vegetation mat of desert scrub.
The fire scars were produced by a fire in 2002, and are certainly not there anymore, unless a new fire has created new scars like this. According to scientists, the image suggests a time sequence of events: Fires first advanced into the view from the lower leftâ€”parallel with the major dune trend and dominant wind direction. Then the wind shifted direction by about 90 degrees so that fires advanced across the dunes in a series of frond-like tendrils. The sharp tips of the fronds show where the fires burned out naturally.
Over time these scars are erased as vegetation grows back.
How’d you do?
And let’s hear it one more time for the latest spacecraft on Mars! Phoenix, you really light my fire!
Image source: NASA Earth Observatory