This Week’s Where In The Universe Challenge

Article written: 7 Jan , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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This week’s Where In The Universe Challenge has a new twist. This image was actually submitted by one of our readers, Wienie van der Oord from Israel. Its quite an interesting image, don’t you agree?! I’ll not give any hints as to where Wienie got the image, or what it is, or whether this image can be found anywhere else on the web (for those of you that like to search online for the image and link the answer!). You’ll have to wait until tomorrow (Thursday) for the answer to be revealed for this week’s Challenge. My only hope is that some conspiracy theorist types don’t see this and claim this image is proof of life on an alien world. Or, possibly, could it really be…..?!

Check back tomorrow to find out! It will be interesting to see the guesses on this one, so submit ’em in the comment section.

UPDATE (1/8): The answer has now been posted below. No peeking before you make your guess!

This image was certainly a lot of fun, and it’s one you can’t find anywhere else on the internet. It was sent in by UT reader Wienie van der Oord, and I’ll let her explain what it is:

“After a short rainfall in the Arava desert in Israel, a tiny desert plant developed a root and two leaves and looked like an “alien” running over another planet,” she said. The raindrops formed the “craters” in the desert sand, and the root going down into the ground suspended the seed above ground, making it look like this little bunny-like creature was scooting across an alien world. The plant in question that has just sprouted is the Zygophyllum Dumosum, a shrub native to Israel that can be found in the Judean desert and Dead Sea Valley, the Negev Hills and Arava Valley. Wienie sent another image too, after she scooped up the little “alien” and put it in her hand:

ZYGOPHYLLUM DUMOSUM sprout.  Image credit: Wienie van der Oord

ZYGOPHYLLUM DUMOSUM sprout. Image credit: Wienie van der Oord

If you’re partial to plants, here’s a Wildflower of Israel website where you can find out more about this shrub.

Thanks to Wienie for sharing this very “cute” image. If you have an original photograph you’d like to submit or a suggested image for a Where In The Universe Challenge, you can send them to me. To find my email address you have to visit my personal website, nancyatkinson.com . Sorry, I’m not going to be spammed to death by posting my email address!


34 Responses

  1. Vagueofgodalming says

    Cocktail stick in a sandpit.

  2. Londonman454 says

    Earth, someones backyard garden, bean seed, and the craters were formed from rain drops. (I think)

  3. Mikel says

    I think it’s in a patch of desert in Israel. The little weenie guy could be a budding cactus, or it could be a fig with 2 tiny cacti impaled upon it, and the fig itself is “toothpicked” into the desert floor. The craters were formed by the photographer, probably by a small sprinkler.

  4. D.R.R. says

    The Earth.

  5. Jorge says

    Heh. A bit too easy, no? If only it hadn’t the little biological telltale in it, some could, perhaps, be left wondering, but with it there can be no doubt about where in the universe this is. Even if the “spacecraft” wasn’t already identified this time (a “spacecraft” called Wienie van der Oord).

    This is so obviously obvious that I won’t give a guess. No point. Besides, my guess would fall down under an acceleration of 9.8 ms-2.

    (hopefully, the HTML bit won’t create any problems)

  6. Jorge says

    (Meh. The html bit didn’t create any problems, but it didn’t work either. The “-2” up there was supposed to be superscript.)

  7. jasond says

    Well, the sand is too course to be a desert, in my opinion. Looks like beach sand, also because of the quartz content and larger white grains that could be sedimented seashells. So, given that, and that we’re talking Israel or somewhere in that vicinity, and given the sand’s colour, I’d say it’s the Meditarranean coastline, or possibly the Sea of Galilee.

    The thing that’s sprouting toward the center of the shot is surely some kind of local succulent or cactus that only comes out of dormancy after a brief stint of desert rain. My guess from the appearance is that it’s probably related to Lithops. It’s clearly divided into two lobes just like that, however, it is built a bit higher.

    How’s that for over-analysis?! šŸ˜€

  8. sweet child says

    Aye, first raindrops falling on sand. The tiny bugs, more than one, seem to be some kind of seed blown with the wind. I’d say it’s a beach on a occupied unfree country.

  9. jasond says

    Wait, I have a second guess! I still think it’s a coastal region but the sand colour and the plant species match another place. It also looks like something along the lines of a Crassula or Andromischus species, most of which are native to South Africa. And considering the surname of the submitter is Dutch, I’m going with that.

    It’s a coastal region of South Africa, and the purplish-coloured objects are native succulent sprouts.

    Probably a thousand miles in left field… šŸ˜›

  10. Chris Farmer, Adelaide, South Australia says

    You guys are nuts!

    It’s obviously an alien moon recently bombarded with a form of space dwelling kidney bean with large green ears.

    Scares the hell out of me I just ate a four bean salad, do you think they know??

  11. Wolter says

    … Beep … The Bunny has touched down … Beep …

  12. Randy says

    I don’t know what planet it is but evedently Hugh Heffner has marked it as his own.

  13. Sci-Fi Si says

    This is taken on a moon in the far reaches of the Solar system near the ‘Oord’ cloud

    Its a Wienie van der Alien.

  14. Cuby says

    It’s a Blizzard in the dessert! Seen trough the windows of my eyes. I’m sure somebody will know someday.

  15. Yael Dragwyla says

    I’ll go with Earth-desert-cactus, probably Israel, or, at least, one or another country near Israel.

  16. pmf71 says

    Where in the universe: Earth.
    Spacecraft: None.

    How’s that for an answer?

  17. Pope Urban VIII says

    The question is moot. Earth is the center of the universe. Further nonsense such as this shall be met with Roman Inquisition.

  18. alfamonaro says

    looks like a sandpit with heaps of coke bottle lid dimples and a weird looking seedling.

  19. trux says

    For Jorge: (off-topic for others, but may be useful when posting anyway)

    this site supports Unicode charset (UTF-8), so you can use thousands of characters, including dozens of mathematical symbols directly, without any need for HTML. So for example the superscript two is character OxC2B2 in UTF-8, and on Windows machines can be typed as AltGr-2 or Alt-253. Or you can copy and paste it from one of many Unicode tables available on the net.

    Superscript minus is 0x207B in UTF-8

    9.8 ms?Ā² or 9.8 m/sĀ²

    Now I only have to hope it really gets through the form šŸ™‚

  20. trux says

    well, so the superscript two passed, but superscript minus was filtered after submitting the post, for some reason. Good to know anyway.

  21. Ella Kosta says

    That is a plant, it’s in air, but I don’t know what kind of. Anyway, there’s many, not just one. The soil is sand with small water drops craters.

  22. Gianrix says

    It’s a bean-bud born from a couple of days. The bean is the dark oval while the two leaves are above. The bean is suspended over a small root below it. The plant is growing on a sand surface. The “craters” are formed by water drops (rain or irrigation).

  23. jay says

    I agree with the above evaluations of the image. I think that it is a cactus plant. Could be anywhere on earth. Possibly it is a cacti farm beacuse you see some similar plants in the image.

  24. Dave says

    I’ll guess its some kind of plant growing inside a (earth) spaceship. say… the ISS.

    otherwise it seems too freakin obvious!

    well either that or an alien bunny coming out of its hole…

  25. John M says

    It is obvious, those are the ears of the energizer bunny. It was sent to Mars as an extra power source and is just wandering around until needed.

  26. Aodhhan says

    Seing it is possiblly in/near Israel… Somewhere near the Arava Desert as a very rare rain begins to fall?
    Perhaps near the Dead Sea?

  27. Feenixx says

    You didn’t ask which space craft took it – so, it’s probably Planet Earth… and likely Israel. Some of the craters almost look like paw marks.
    The plants don’t look like bean seedlings or cacti.
    If I assume it’s Israel, and it’s a desert which has some rain, then they could perhaps be Opophytum forsskalii- which grows in salty desert sands – for example by the Dead Sea. Adults look like bundles and strings of green sausages – maybe seedlings look like this…..? I’m only guessing…

  28. esun says

    It looks like raindrop splatter on perhaps coarser sand. The polygonal larger patterning suggests a freeze-thaw cycle with no disturbance from plowing or such. So, it’s some kind of plant growing in a colder climate country (Canada, eh?) ….

  29. Dan says

    That really looks like water drops in zero G. ISS all the way.

  30. Dan says

    HAh! The European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) . Who sent you the photo!

  31. Dori says

    I need to submit this to the 4-H Rabbit Club that my kid belongs to. Alien bunny!

    But yeah, I’ll agree that it’s some sort of plant growing in sandy soil, as a rainstorm begins. Beautiful!

  32. Kootstar says

    Don”t know exactly where or who took the photo, but it certainly is earthly and appears very much like the watermelon seeds that we used to grow from our summer treats when I was a kid. The shape of the seed is well matched shape and colored for that. Yes, a sprinkle of water makes “craters” like that.

  33. neoguru says

    Sheese! I figured it was something left on the moon by astronauts. I even hallucinated footprints! Very good. I’ve been off before, but never THIS far off!

  34. Jorge says

    neoguru, it’s not all that far off. Only 360 thousand kilometers. In space, that’s nothing. šŸ˜‰

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