Where In The Universe #41

Are you ready for another Where In The Universe Challenge? Take a look at the image above and see if you can name where in the Universe this image is from. Give yourself extra points if you can name the spacecraft responsible for the image. We’ll provide the image today, but won’t reveal the answer until tomorrow. This gives you a chance to mull over the image and provide your answer/guess in the comment section. Check back tomorrow on this same post to see how you did. Good luck!

UPDATE: The answer to this Challenge has now been posted below. Don’t peek at the answer until you make a guess!

This image is of oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico on Earth. No, its not from an oil spill, but from natural seepage coming from the ocean floor. Natural seepage can introduces a significant amount of oil to ocean environments. Usually oil slicks on the ocean are difficult to see in natural-color (photo-like) satellite images, since the ocean surface is already so dark blue, the additional darkening or slight color change that results from a spill is usually imperceptible.

But remote-sensing scientists recently demonstrated that these “invisible” oil slicks do show up in photo-like images if you look in the right place, and if the sun is just at the right angle. The image above is a cropped version of the larger image below, showing the Gulf of Mexico, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on May 13, 2006.

Gulf of Mexico oil slick.  Credit: NASA/Terra Satellite
Gulf of Mexico oil slick. Credit: NASA/Terra Satellite

For more info on these images, see NASA’s Earth Observatory website

How did you do in this week’s Challenge?

41 Replies to “Where In The Universe #41”

  1. Ouch! You’re making this tough for us. Good! 🙂

    OK, I’ll be guessing Mars and the HiRISE camera onboard the MRO. Why? Well, because the blue streaks look a lot like tracks left by dust devils, the coloration is consistent with the false colours typically used by the HiRISE team, and there are signs of topography to the right of the image which are also consistent with martian topography.

    So there: Mars. Not certain at all, but that’s my guess.

  2. Earth. It’s definitely and ocean from space, but I don’t know which one, and I would guess it was taken from the International Space Station.

  3. I am certain many posters seen this picture posted before and remembered where it is, this is one of the few I have not seen.
    However, the webmaster will post many more in the future for which I will remember
    the location. I was too lazy to post in the previous weeks where I knew the location.
    Oh well, lol

  4. My guess: Earth.
    Clouds over an ocean on earth at sunset or sunrise.
    Likely jet contrails deformed by the movement of the clouds over time.
    Lotta jets = near big city – NYC?
    More likely from the ISS than a weather satellite.

    Wait! Wait!
    I’m changing my guess to: low clouds moving through the Skyscrapers in NYC!

  5. The Terra satellite captured these oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico – not because they look so dark to the human eye, but because they are relatively calm water amid the glitter of sunlight bouncing off the “normal” sea.

  6. Mike lynch-sorry-can’t change mind,Lol, I want to change my mind but too late-next time,I will give more than a 10 second glance.
    There are those on this feed who ‘cheated’, but oh well, lol

  7. These are dust devil’s footprints on martian surface. This is an oblique view from a Mars orbiter with enought resolution to clearly resolve individual tracks. Not sure, but guess was shoot from Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter (if not, by Mars Global Surveyor).

  8. It does look like dust devil tracks on Mars, but maybe from one of the older probes like Odessy or MGS.

  9. Trails of jet streams over the Himalayas. I guess it was taken by one of ESA’s Earth-observing satellites.

  10. It is definitely oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisianna. Found it online. Search “oil slicks in gulf of mexico” and you’ll get a story and picture. What we see on Universe Today is just a cropped version.

  11. Great site thanks a bunch! I would be very interested in hearing about your experiences and how do you cope with them and what recommendations you have!

    Was going to write a long desertation but hello?? That’s not the way I see it.

    So comments, let em fly ha ha.

    John B

  12. # Savino Says:
    February 5th, 2009 at 9:29 am

    “Seems my primary mirror! 🙁 ”

    >>> !!! That must be a disappointing state of affairs for you Savino!

    Anyway I had no idea what the piccy was of… but if it is oil slicks in the Gulf of NM, then that is a disappointing state of affairs too.

  13. The picture is of natural oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico. Actually, most of the oil and tar that washes up on Texas beaches is from these natural seeps. Normal photos don’t show these at all–this is made using the sun’s glint on water.

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