Where In The Universe #57

Article written: 10 Jun , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

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. Please, no links or extensive explanations of what you think this is — give everyone the chance to guess.

UPDATE: The answer has now been posted below. Don’t peek before you guess!

It was fun to have an image that (finally!) not everyone knew at first glance. I was feeling a little nostalgic and missing the Phoenix lander, so I chose an image from that mission — which was going on and going strong a year ago.

This is a pile of Mars soil that the Phoenix lander excavated with its scoop. This pile was called “Caterpillar” and the image was taken on August 24, 2008.

The conical pile is about 10 centimeters (4 inches) tall, and was taken from several trenches that the lander dug. For more about the image, see the Phoenix gallery.

22 Responses

  1. hambr says

    Mars, Pathfinder

  2. Jorge says

    You’re a mean, mean lady, Nancy! 😉

    Such a non-descript terrain can be just about anything. The colours seem to indicate Mars, shot by one of the rovers, probably either Spirit or Opportunity. But it can be just as well some desertic patch of the Earth. It could even be a colourized version of an Eros image if it wasn’t for what I believe is a cone of debris at the base of a hill.

    Anyway, I’m putting my money on Mars. And on Opportunity; Spirit has been lingering for too long on Home Plate and for some reason I don’t think I’m looking at Home Plate here.

  3. Nexus says

    I think it’s just a mound of dirt on Earth, shot with someone’s digital camera.

  4. Jon Hanford says

    Oh, Nancy has a real toughie this time. Maybe it’s an inverted magnetic tornado on Mercury taken by MESSENGER? Or maybe it’s all that remains of the Tunguska (meteorite, comet, spaceship, etc.). Possibly, its just an anthill! Seriously, it looks to be the Martian surface seen at close (ground level) range, but probably not from Phoenix or Viking 1 or 2. This would leave Sojourner, Spirit, or Opportunity as possible vehicles. Good choice, Nancy 🙂

  5. Astrofiend says

    Termite mound in the Australian outback.

  6. clatonium says

    No, no its Phoenix!

  7. Lawrence B. Crowell says

    These are toughies. This conical hill appears almost unnatural. I would expect that if winds and the like worked at it long enough it would be worm away. So if this is martian it is due to a digging tool on Phoenix or some other craft which made it to the surface.

  8. Ringman says

    The pile of Martian dust that Phoenix made while digging for water ice.

  9. Nexus says

    The straight, regular scrapes on the rock in the foreground don’t look natural to me.

  10. Nephish777 says

    I agree with Phoenix digging on Mars

  11. noddy244 says

    I’d say Phoniex on Mars

  12. secondguess says

    looks to we like the mound of dirt the spirit rover is stuck on, on mars

  13. Manu says

    Mars by Phoenix,
    Nancy’ backyard by Nancy (no EXIF file this time!)

  14. Nereid2 says

    If it’s not someone’s (desert) backyard, then it’s Mars … but which spacecraft? I haven’t a clue.

  15. S.E.Cycloid says

    Looks like Mars, probably the bit that Phoenix used to dump all the spare regolith, the pile looks larger than I would expect though.

  16. ioresult says

    A replica of the mound of dirt under Spirit’s belly. Shot in the JPL lab.

  17. neoguru says

    Mars – one of the rovers. Either that or it’s a red herring leading us to guess Mars!

  18. neoguru says

    Mars – rover. Or a red herring leading us down the path to guessing it.

  19. Thirteenfingers says

    That’s a shot of my backyard! No, it does look like Mars, as seen by one of the two rovers.

  20. Rob_Bowman says

    Looks like Mars, and the rock at centre bottom shows striping that looks like it’s been mechanically dug – by a rover?

  21. Member
    ToSeek says

    Ringman had it first: it’s the pile named “Caterpillar” that Phoenix built while digging elsewhere.

  22. Jon Hanford says

    Thanks again, Nancy, for this somewhat obscure and less well known featured object. It is quite an interesting image as evidenced in the range of guesses posted by UT readers! Well done!

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