This Week’s Where In The Universe Challenge

Its time once again for another Where In The Universe Challenge. And this is the official WITU challenge for this week, even though Anne’s article today about the mystery blob is another challenge. But we’ll let the professional astronomers handle that mystery! The goal of this challenge is to test your skills and knowledge of the cosmos. This week’s image was sent in by one of our regular readers, Vino. Guess where in the Universe this image is from and give yourself extra points if you can guess if a spacecraft or another type of instrument is responsible for the image. Post your guess in the comment section (no links to hints please, and no torturing Vino to get her to tell the answer!) Just check back tomorrow to find out the answer. Good luck!

UPDATE: The answer has now been posted below.

Well, Vino, we didn’t fool everyone. As some of you guessed, this is a beach (although no one guessed which beach!) But it really does look like the surface of a moon or Mercury. Vino took this picture last year of the beaches of the Blackpool resort in the UK. “I didn’t realise the picture would turn out the way it did when I took it,” Vino said. “These were the result of tides….and completely camouflaging. I fooled a few of my friends as well.”

Thanks for sharing your picture, Vino! And if anyone else has images they would like to share or suggest for future WITU challenges, send them to me at nancyatkinson04 at

Check back next week for another Where In The Universe Challenge!

22 Replies to “This Week’s Where In The Universe Challenge”

  1. I was going to say it was a river delta taken by an Earth-orbiting satellite… but I reckon it’s a beach, taken by a sunbather with a digital camera. The channels are etched into wet sand by seawater. 😉

  2. If this had a few craters and boulders strewn around, it could well be a martian landscape. But no, it’s a detail of a tidal area in an Earth beach, probably shot by a point-and-shoot digital camera. 🙂

  3. I think it’s the ‘bits’ in this photo that actually give away it’s true scale.

    I don’t believe this is a photo taken from space as I think the detail doesn’t make sence.

    I’m going with the others on this and say it’s an Earth beach and not taken with any satellite.


  4. According to the EXIF file (oh oh :D), it’s says, the image info:

    Date Time Original: 7/24/2008 2:04:15PM
    Expsoure: 1/350 sec at f/7.8
    Focal length: 18mm
    ISO Speed: ISO 100
    Camera: Hewlett-Packard Photosmart M425
    Software: Picasa 3.0

    So, yes, this image is Earth bound. 😀

  5. i think it’s either Russell Crater or flow bands on the Hellas Basin Floor.


  6. Definitely beach on earth with a digital camera. If the photo was taken in July as suggested by CSI it’s probably somewhere in the northern hemisphere.

  7. Looks like braided river features to me, caused by a large release of water over a usually dry area which then ceases and the process repeats itself again enough times to cause the braided features.

    If it is this I’d be surprised if this where somewhere else besides Earth or Mars.

    Lets say Braided River Features, Mars, taken by Mars Express.

  8. I live in the northern parts of the world and that image really looks like a close up on a snowy landscape. I guess that it has been taken somewhere on a Glacier in Canada or Greenland.

  9. This looks terrestrial, for there are clear lines of fluid flow in sand. However, this could as well be an arroyo on Mars as well.

    Lawrence B. Crowell

  10. I agree with whoever gets it correct. In other words, I have no idea, but I don’t think it is a beach on Earth.

  11. Tinny superposed, gentle wavy shapes suggest a sand/dust background, rather shaped by winds. The very few and small size craters on wavy tips suggest that the forms are recently modeled and the process is continuous. They almost exclude a terrestrial image, unles it’s not a fake. Besides, the image is very detailed. All that suggest the image is most probably taken on Mars, perhaps by HiRISE cameras.

  12. Blackpool, eh? If that’s where our cameras are pointed, I think we have an explanation of Fermi’s paradox.

  13. Shaped by winds. It’s the tracks of wind blown rocks in Death Valley. The Racetrack Beach (Playa in Spanish)
    Taken from an ordinary airplane. Local Navy pilots just love to take pictures like this. Could be just from a high point.
    No one has ever figured out how these heavy rocks get blown around. Or do the rocks sit still and the playa moves past them?
    “spacecraft or another type of instrument” means that a spacecraft is not the answer.

  14. Did anyone ever try to give one of these rocks a push? Take a barrel of water and try it wet or dry.

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