Where In The Universe Challenge #27

Here’s the latest image for the “Where In The Universe” challenge. Take a look at the image and try your hand at guessing where in the Universe this image is from. Give yourself extra points (or a cookie) if you can name the spacecraft responsible for the image. The new way we’re doing this challenge is that we’ll provide the image today, but won’t reveal the answer until tomorrow. This gives everyone a chance to mull over the image and provide their answer in the comment section. Check back tomorrow to see how you did!

UPDATE (10/30): The answer has now been posted below. If you haven’t made your guess yet, no peeking before you do!! From now on, the answers will be given in the same post instead of a new one…so you need to come back and check the original to find out the answer!

Are all your guesses in? It’s now time to reveal the answer to this week’s challenge. This image comes from the STS-115 space shuttle mission in September 2006. Crew members spotted an unidentified object floating away from the shuttle. No one ever really figured out what it was, but it was believed to be debris that floated out of the shuttle’s payload bay. The image was taken by astronaut Daniel Burbank onboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis (here’s the original). It caused a little stir because earlier in the day, the crew recorded a video shot of another object tumbling away from the shuttle.

How did you do?

Some of you had the right answer — great job! The other answers? Well, I commend some of you for your creativity! Come back for another WITU Challenge next week!

46 Replies to “Where In The Universe Challenge #27”


  2. What the heck?!

    My only guess would be something artificial that fell off the ISS or the shuttle, with Earth’s blue in the background. A bit of translucid plastic? Or perhaps something shot from the ground, since the ocean photographed from space tends to be much darker than this.

    If I had to make a guess would be Earth’s orbit, shot from the International Space Station, but this time I’m far, far from certain.

    Seriously weird stuff. Can’t wait for the answer.

  3. Oh right! I think I remember that object on a past shuttle mission. It was seen floating away. I don’t think it was ever positively identified though, but I’m unsure.

  4. It’s a jellyfish in the underwater sea on Europa. Oh wait – it’s only 2008.

    Looks like it could be a plasma filament or a shock boundary even. False colour SOHO image of a Solar prominence? Plasma jet lobe of an active galaxy or Herbig-Haro object perhaps? Aurora on Jupiter or Saturn!?

    I think I’ll go with false-colour Aurora on Jupiter, snapped with Galileo.

    I think you’ve got me though Nancy – that’s a goodun.

  5. Richard Garriott’s underpants. He dropped them from the space station “for a laugh”…

    As you can see, I have no clue what this picture is! Nancy you are a devil! It’s been bugging me all day! (I’ve even been cheating and scouring the space sites, and I still haven’t found it!)

    Cheers, Ian

  6. Quite difficult object.

    I definitely believe it’s a man made object. Due to it’s structure I think it’s a nano technological thing. It must somehow have something to do with astronomy – I believe. Maybe a part of an experiment going on, on the ISS. Testing a future nano component – could look like at mounting to go into connection with other components.

    The purpose – if I’m on the tread, could then be with the purpose to create future instruments with much lighter weight, to reduce the cost for both the manufacturing and the lunching expenses.

    Can’t wait for the answer.

    The picture will then have been taken on the ISS through a microscope.

  7. Dead pixels says modern era,my guess would be an elongated object falling through earths atmosphere,taken from ISS ?

  8. False colour image of some Aurora is what i am going with even though i have no clue what so ever…
    Nancy you are too good…

  9. I’m going for rocket fuel exhaust or something else in the sky. Plastic bags don’t look like this and neither do jellyfish, but maybe it’s a jellyfish in space having big trouble with the vacuum.

  10. Gee you guys are stupid it’s obviously a white squiggly thing in front of a blue background,:)

  11. My guess is it’s a part of the Surveyor (3?) lander brought back to Earth by Apollo 12 for x-ray analysis…… I’ll have to check tomorrow!

  12. Piece of debris from a recent Shuttle mission floating in space.

    I can’t recall which mission exactly because they all seem to be the same.

  13. A Dementor from Azkaban? No, wait. They’re all black. I get the same sense of hopelessness from this picture though cause I just have no clue what it is.

  14. This is a loose bracket lost out of the payload bay of the Shuttle Orbiter on a recent mission.

  15. I’m gonna take a wild guess and say its sun (a flare maybe?) and imaged by SOHO.

    This one is tough! Now I’ll scroll up and see what everyone else guessed.

    Great picture (as always).

  16. Some of the above guesses are good, I’ll venture this maybe fading comet, distant sun or galaxy taken by the Hubble telescope.

  17. Another guess prompted by a colleague – High altitude cloud seen from the Shuttle during launch or Spaceship 1

  18. This is a peace of trash or something similar (bag) that drifted away from Space shuttle or ISS not so long time ago! Media speculated what that might be. The picture was taken either from earth cameras or from recon. planes during filming shuttle reentry . I could find even the mission (sts) but that is not important. The object was in earth atmosphere. The picture was taken within a year from now, just few shuttle missions back.

  19. OMG I’ve seen this pic before but cannot place it. I’ll stab at it: It’s an unusual high altitude aurora. If not an aurora, it’s a high altitude object on earth. I’m not confident with this guess, but I’ve seen it before I tell ya! It’s gonna drive me nuts until tomorrow. Good one! Nobody’s confident with their guess.

  20. Wow what happened to all the “this is too easy” whining from last week? All of a sudden everyone just quits and goes for a joke when the answer doesn’t fly into their head immediately. I’ll be back after I do some sifting through NASA images.

  21. O.K. So they never knew what it was. My new guess is, since it was “floating” out of the cargo bay, it is “somebody’s Depends” that they didn’t want anyone else to know they were wearing. Apparently Depends is now a mainstay with all Astronauts.

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