“Where In The Universe” Challenge #7

Article written: 28 May , 2008
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

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 static—“tied down” 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 left—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


16 Responses

  1. David says

    Well, I guessed Earth but had no idea where the image might be located. Another awesome image! Very cool.

  2. Jorge says

    I also guessed Earth, but was way off in what the image was supposed to be. I thought those were sand ripples, yes, but small, subsurface ones. Underwater, I mean. And yes, I know that no spaceship could have snapped a picture of small sand ripples in a shallow sea or lake, but then again, you could have bent the rules a bit, so to speak.

    I’m considering myself beten by this one.

    Strange to think that I recognize better the surface of Hyperion than my own planet… :S

  3. Jorge says

    Argh! beAten!

    (need a preview button. Or, better yet, an edit button. Need need need)

  4. RL says

    I guessed Earth but I thought it might be an ocean near a volcano or maybe near a place that dyed the water. There also seemed to be a small object in the picture but I couldn’t tell what it is.

    Cool picture, maybe I’ll have better luck next time!

  5. Kevin White says

    I guessed it was something found painted on a cave wall. I was wrong.

  6. benudhar says

    I guessed this is a desert of earth, but i have no idea where it is located.

    It is very strange

  7. Owen says

    I guessed Earth but i thought it was in the sea

  8. john says

    I was confused about which desert. Keep up the good stuff.

  9. Maugrim says

    Yeah, I thought it was light patterns on an Earth ocean. Right planet, wrong medium…

  10. PaulS says

    I thought it might be a false-color image of Saturn’s tiger-stripe moon, Enceladus.

    Good one, Nancy!

  11. neoguru says

    Woo Hoo! I nailed it! Well, I guessed fire scars on Earth, but didn’t guess Australia. I figure that’s close enough. A gold star 4 me! Eat’cher hears out!

  12. TK says

    I’m pretty bad at this game, but I love seeing these pictures. Keep up the great work, Nancy!

  13. Al Hall says

    You got me.. Damn. I thought that was the back of a bug or something..

  14. Gestur says

    I had it all right, eastern Australia, saw this on Google Earth last year and it made me curious, so I read about those bushfires

  15. DLGenesis says

    i was thinking it was a reflection in a sea

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