This Week’s Where In The Universe Challenge

Article written: 1 Apr , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

Are you ready for another Where In The Universe Challenge? Take a look 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. As usual, 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 — if you dare! Check back tomorrow on this same post to see how you did. Good luck!

UPDATE: The answer has now been posted below.

This image was taken on On March 4, 2009, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. It is not plane contrails as some have suggested, but clouds that formed over the northeast Pacific Ocean that form around the particles in ship exhaust. This image shows how these ship “tracks” are different from the natural marine clouds in the same area. You can see a natural-color view of this image here, but from this enhanced image, scientists can determine the size of the cloud droplets.

Cloud droplets form when water vapor condenses onto a small particles, like the ship exhaust. The ship tracks are brighter than the regular clouds because the cloud particles in them are smaller (yellow and peach), but more numerous, than the particles in the natural clouds (lavender to dark purple).

Why are scientists concerned with cloud brightness? A cloud’s brightness impacts how much sunlight gets bounced back to space and how much reaches the surface of the Earth, which influences global climate. The size of the droplets also influences the amount of rain the clouds produce; smaller droplets are less likely to collide and form drops that are big enough to fall as rain.

How’d you do? Check back next week for another WITU Challenge!


37 Responses

  1. Salacious B. Crumb says

    An EU fanatic being electrocuted by some mad EU experiment.

  2. star-grazer says

    ROFLMAO- SBC your ‘gravity slam’ against OIM ‘electro choke hold’ makes me laugh; I’m trying to stay neutral on this. Lol
    This picture is amazing, I have no idea, it looks like vapor trails from ground launched rocket barrage. It can’t be dust devils because the ‘tips’ are sharp

  3. Jorge says

    Oooooookay…

    The planet is the Earth. That’s settled. The subject? Contrails, looks like, or perhaps missile exhaust gases in some warzone somewhere.

    The spacecraft? Absolutely no clue. The image seems to be infrared, so it’s probably some satellite with IR cameras, but there are tons of them up there, still dodging the debris.

  4. Wolter says

    Somewhere on earth. Ocean, land, clouds, contrails.
    False coloring, Terra/MODIS perhaps.

  5. Mikel says

    Contrails, and it looks like we are seeing the photo from the North facing South, as the contrails normally follow a great circle on the Earth.

    Don’t know where, though.

  6. Sofista says

    Hmm, Happy April Fools’ Day!

  7. Yael Dragwyla says

    It looks like a false color version of either a landscape with rivers or the inside of some crystal or biological array done with an electron microscope.

  8. Chad S. says

    Bikini Atoll nuclear blast test?

  9. SebastienP says

    let me see… Aborigines doing smoke signals from West northern Australia.

  10. dimar says

    future Eearth, Large Hadron Collider experiment gone wrong.

  11. Jess says

    If anyone had been watching, it is a photo of the surface of Titan taken upon entry…

  12. alan says

    Smoke from the oil fires in Kuwait after the first Iraq war

  13. Chris Farmer says

    I think April fools is right. I think it’s a mixture of a few different pictures. Or someone has put LSD on my rice bubbles again.

  14. Chris Farmer says

    I think April fools is right. I think it’s a mixture of a few different pictures.

  15. Assi says

    The earth. I would guess Australia

  16. Vino says

    i think it is the Earth!! Is it the volcano which was outgassing in US???

  17. Taunide says

    Earth
    Envisat

  18. jeevani says

    image of earth, ice trails by ships

  19. KiNETiK says

    earth. satellite or high altitude photo of smoke, either from fires or chimneys. colored purple!

  20. RL says

    Contrails near Alaska. ISS.

  21. Jane says

    I think that was in my dryer last week.

  22. spoodle58 says

    Nuke test was my first thought.

    I have no idea was my second.

  23. Drlove says

    This is MARS with all of the bolders that have fallen off the ridges in a time lapse photo.

  24. John says

    the trails are rockets launched at the palestinians by a US NAVY rocket launcher in the mediterranean

  25. neoguru says

    I’ll guess it’s Earth, an ocean basin with turbidity currents – undersea landslides.

  26. Andrew says

    I’m guessing that that is somewhere on Earth, and those clouds are jet contrails.

  27. Shawna says

    Mars cliffs with boulder trails taken by the Hi-Rise orbiter.

  28. Daba says

    Those are sounding rockets contrails used in early nuclear bombs tests. 🙁

  29. santafedog says

    Looks like a rocket attack on a nude beach

  30. santafedog says

    Actually, it looks a lot like some kind of exhaust, either from machinery (refineries) or volcanic vents.

  31. Will says

    Those trails are originating at the surface and are moving at an angled trajectories, the bulk of them toward and beneath the cloud/smoke cover (upper left). It has to be geo-thermal activity and spewing hot rocks are producing the trails. If not a recent shot of Redoubt, it’s another volcano. As Wolter suggested possibly Terra/MODIS pic.

  32. wwwolf says

    Im sure its “stardust” in the aerogel collected by one of sucess space mission..somehow i still remember this picture..

  33. star grazer says

    Everyone was wrong!!! lol.
    Nancy-keep posting very complex pictures,
    this will make everyone think-some of the posts are quite humorous but may have some merit.

  34. Spoodle58 says

    I liked this one a lot, keep them coming hard.

  35. How to Get Six Pack Fast says

    Hey, cool tips. Perhaps I’ll buy a glass of beer to that person from that forum who told me to go to your site 🙂

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