NASA releases satellite image of giant coffin shaped entity shrouded in clouds – what is it?

by Kathryn Hansen NASA Earth Observatory

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The October 2018 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what we are looking at and why it is interesting.

How to answer. You can use a few words or several paragraphs. You might simply tell us the location. Or you can dig deeper and explain what satellite and instrument produced the image, what spectral bands were used to create it, or what is compelling about some obscure feature in the image. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy, tell us about it.

The prize. We can’t offer prize money or a trip to Mars, but we can promise you credit and glory. Well, maybe just credit. Roughly one week after a puzzler image appears on this blog, we will post an annotated and captioned version as our Image of the Day. After we post the answer, we will acknowledge the first person to correctly identify the image at the bottom of this blog post. We also may recognize readers who offer the most interesting tidbits of information about the geological, meteorological, or human processes that have shaped the landscape. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for or attend an institution that you would like to recognize, please mention that as well.

Recent winners. If you’ve won the puzzler in the past few months or if you work in geospatial imaging, please hold your answer for at least a day to give less experienced readers a chance to play.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved some puzzlers after a few minutes. To give more people a chance to play, we may wait between 24 to 48 hours before posting comments.

Good luck!

NOTE: WUWT readers are welcome to comment and speculate here, but to win the contest, you will need to post the comment on the NASA website here 

Thanks, Anthony

190 thoughts on “NASA releases satellite image of giant coffin shaped entity shrouded in clouds – what is it?

    • It’s interesting how the ice is large enough to change the character of the clouds on either side. Both the cloud volume and the area to height ratios have been changed by the ice flow. A zoomed out picture would be interesting to see if further down wind, the clouds reverted back.

      • co2isnotevil

        We’re examining a photograph taken from space, transmitted through the ether, processed by computers, downloaded onto a blog, viewed by people with questionable internet connections, transmitted by questionable wireless connections to dodgy computers, using a variety of operating systems and browsers, with wildly varying monitors, and most of us wearing $5 spectacles, not having had an eye test in 5 years, and you want a zoomed out shot? 🙂

        • “viewed by people with questionable internet connections, transmitted by questionable wireless connections to dodgy computers, using a variety of operating systems and browsers” sounds good but I dont think any of that fundamentally changes the image

          • yarpos

            Have you tried an ‘insiders’ copy of Windows 10?

            Blurry text on some PC’s, with some browsers, amongst other problems.

        • It’s something I expect based on my model of clouds being the degree of freedom that modulates the system towards a predestined steady state. The effect clouds have on the albedo is different depending on whether or not there’s snow and ice below them. This is clear from the picture where the clear sky is more reflective than the clouds when over ice while its less reflective when clouds are over water. In other words, incremental clouds have opposing incremental effects on the albedo above and below 0C. The top of the ice radiates at 0C.

          This can be seen in this plot of cloud coverage vs. the SB emissions corresponding to the reported temperature. Notice the peak cloud coverage at about 315 W/m^2, corresponding to 273K (0C), when suddenly, incremental clouds have a different affect on the albedo.

          • co2 is n e:

            Good eye! I note the rather rectangular blocks of cloud with alligned open spaces around them only over the ice. I’ve seen boxy convection cell clouds before but the spacing suggests an upward flow of air pusing them apart. Maybe air heated above the ice by reflected energy rising vertically up through the lattic bounding the cells. There is no wind. I note both ends of the length the floe have some hilly topography with every where else a flat plain. The plain must be the influence that causes the rectilinear arrangement of the clouds alligned with the lenght and breadth of the floe.

          • Gary Pearse

            Good thinking. In the book Convection Heat Transfer by Adrian Bejan there are several examples of the type and shape of convection cells that are created between cold and hot plates, hot plates and so on, where heat is passing upwards or downwards.

            Depending on the delta T, the cells take on different shapes automatically and those shapes are affected by the vertical separation. Cells can be square, hexagonal and other shapes. In certain conditions, the cells will be square and when the lower plate is heated further, the convection cells re-form into nested hexagons.

      • lt is interesting how this ice was able to turn the cloud above it into “roller cloud”.
        This suggests that this ice island was not a flat surface and that part of its surface area was at least 800ft above the sea level.

        • I have seen ridges much less than 800 feet tall affect clouds. Temperature difference alone can affect clouds. I have seen clouds form from onshore wind hitting shorelines, so it does not take a lot to affect a cloud pattern.

          • lts the fact that the cloud became banded that made me think there is quite a difference in height between this ice island and the sea. Because this banding in the cloud suggest that a wave pattern in the air was set up by this ice island. The lowest height l have seen or read about causing this to happen is 800ft. So that is why a suggested this height, also a ice island of this size would be able to have at parts of its surface well above the sea level.

      • Actually, It is NOT changing the clouds, just the way you see them. Look very closely.

        Some great big piece of plastic for some covering for an experiment of some sort is my guess.

        • Yes, look carefully.
          On the lower right, the conditions are mostly cloudy within thinner clouds covering more area. On the upper left, the conditions are partly cloudy with taller clouds covering less area. You can even see the cloud height/area ratio morph between the lower right and upper left as it crosses the ice flow. It also looks like the wind is blowing from the lower right to the upper left.

        • No this ice island is certainly having a effect on the cloud cover. Notice how at the bottom of the photo the cloud looks the same over both the sea and the ice. But around half way up the photo the cloud over the ice island was changing into roller cloud. This suggests that at least the middle of this ice island was well above the sea level.

        • glad Im not the only other..I thought Cristo mighta been busy
          old screen and more than $5 specs but stuffed if I could see what/where either.

      • Reverted back? From what? You’re looking at them with a flat white background, and they are white clouds. And they are throwing darker shadows on to the ice. So of course they look different to clouds on a dark background, plus no visible shadows cast.

        • From the taller puffier clouds on the leeward side of the ice flow back to the flatter closer packed clouds on the windward side. Alternatively, were the clouds taller and puffier further back from the windward side and did the ice flow compress the incoming cloud bank.

          It’s interesting from the perspective of determining whether the change in clouds is due to the change in albedo difference between clouds and no clouds, is it due to a different temperature over the ice, is it due to an obstruction in the air flow or some combination.

    • MODS the Security Certificate BS is starting again. That is added to ” This Page Can’t Be Displayed ” nonsense has resurfaced this week.

      • The problem is with settings on your own computer and a slow internet connection.
        Go to your browser settings and turn off the appropriate certificate notification setting…and while you are there clear all the data.

        • since daylight saving my pc has to be reset to correct time and sometimes year/date as well, every single day i turn it on!
          time to save the disk and migrate to Linux for good i reckon

    • Looks like visible light image, not microwave sounding.

      The initial impression that is was a Vogon mother-ship hovering above the Earth can be discounted by noting the shadow of the clouds. So it is sea , not sky. It appears to be at least 10 miles long.

      NH sea ice is consolidating at this time of year. So I’d guess a chunk of sea ice broken off Larsen C , Antarctica.

    • Yes, looks like one of those peculiar icebergs we’ve seen pictures of lately, through light cloud cover.

      But in reality it is a dire message from Nature to Man:
      “Hello! I,m dying! It’s your fault. Send money immediately or there will be freezy, gorish weather in Poland come December and COP. Following credit cards accepted….”

  1. It’s an iceberg and proves that NASA employees are getting paid to goof off. Or maybe it proves that the climate is spiraling out of control due to CACA, if you prefer.

    • John Tillman

      It’s all becoming clear now.

      Climate change is a geometric conundrum, nothing to do with atmospheric CO2!

      Or it’s crap on the camera lens.

    • Icebergs calve off of the face of glaciers and tend to be irregular masses. Ice floes are generally large chunks from a floating ice shelf that break off and thus tend to be large and relatively flat.

      • Both icebergs which calve off glaciers and those which break off floating ice shelves are called icebergs, to distinguish them from sea ice.

  2. It is a very large piece of ice that broke cleanly and just took the form seen. I guess South Pole. The clouds are the same colour and elevation but the background fools you. Try masking the photo with your finger at the edges of the ice and you’ll see what I mean.

    Just a wild guess.

  3. “You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop……………

    • I went to an appreciation dinner a few years ago (for someone else) and met the executive producer of the original Twilight Zone series. At the time he was pretty old so I doubt he is still with us.

      What a great 20 minute talk I had with him. Pretty good stories on some of the better episodes and the actors that played the characters along with how it came to be and Rod Serling.

  4. Global warming will make the world less geometrical. Honest, the IPCC said so, somewhere, I’m sure. The corners will die!

  5. It’s the sword part of a Damokles one used to cool down and silence the warmists, unfortunately so heavily handled that it broke by the shaft.

  6. It is an artistic statement by Mother Earth, symbolizing her own death at the hands of humans.

    The medium is clouds on ice.

    ARTIST: Mother Earth
    TITLE: My End Is Near
    DATE CREATED: unknown
    DIMENSIONS: unknown
    MARKET VALUE: it doesn’t matter, because we’re all doomed
    PROVENANCE: see above

    • Bruce

      I thought that’s what William Schroeder posted two above…….. “Herd of sheep in a meadow”.

  7. Its the prototype of Elon’s new battery, designed in conjunction with Apple in deference to the late Steve Jobs.
    The battery equivalent of an oil tanker and we see it here undergoing sea trials in a place where they thought no-one would see it.
    Under a cloud. In fact lots of clouds coz that’s where its all at these days. yeah?
    But of course, clouds ain’t all they’re cracked up to be. Bit like Windows 10 not least.

    Basically, it sails around the globe to sunny places, charges itself up and brings the juice home or to wherever its needed.
    Saves all the grief of running wires around the world, especially through places where The Natives are, shall we say, less than hospitable. And would probably pinch all that copper and melt it down for recycling = most anywhere in the UK where ‘travellers’ may be spotted.

    Well, that was easy.

    • Peta of Newark

      Ooooooo……you’re skating on thin ice (coffin) mentioning ‘travellers’ in a derogatory manner.

      I mean, we can’t say anything about Anjem Choudary being released from jail this week lest we’re tracked down by the thought police.

      “………the prisons minister, Rory Stewart, said Choudary, from Ilford in east London, remained a “genuinely dangerous” figure and that the “completely pernicious” cleric would be watched “very, very carefully” by police and security services.”

      Why don’t I believe that?

  8. The white stuff is in several pieces, starting with three pieces near the head and a long thin tail.

    Looks to me like the white background is to help gauge water color an albedo.
    The water is an Arctic or Greenland melt pond with clumps of snow on the surface of the melted water .

  9. World’s largest Baked Alaska escapes from Al Gore’s Fortress of Solitude. BOLO! BOLO!

    “Unless you send money now, the planet will turn into one giant, encompassing dessert,” warns new IPCC head Leonardo Dimutant Ninja.

  10. What we see here is the coffin climate alarmism will be buried in. Its remains have to go somewhere.

  11. It is a fabricated image. Not sure how it was done but suggest: Crop out the clouds shown above the geometric shape and slightly zoom in to produce an image. Next generate the geometric shape. Then place these two images on top of the background clouds with the enhanced clouds on top. Bingo!

    The shadows on the enhanced clouds do not tie in with the background clouds. At the lower left hand side of the coffin there is an odd patch where the cropping got abit out of sync. methinks.

  12. It’s the monolith from 2001, complete with snow-monkeys.
    You can’t see them because they are behind the clouds.

  13. At least this observation and characterization is near-frame. That said, science has evolved as a pattern matching hobby — consistent with.

    • Speaking of pattern matching, I read a very interesting article in the October issue of Astronomy magazine about the “Zooniverse Projects”.

      This is a program where volunteers are used to search, as one example, through images and locate such things as gravitational lenses, an area where humans are superior to computers.

      It’s Citizen Science in action and looks exciting. There’s even a climate change project, although I have no idea what they do there.

  14. You ask, what is it? Obviously, by circular reasoning: it is a satellite image of giant coffin-shaped entity shrouded in clouds.

    Do I win?

    Well, even place second for correct hyphenation??

  15. It’s a giant white sheet of plastic sent up by the AGW crowd to reflect the sun’s heat and save us all from GW etc.

  16. Second and last entry from me (the above article did NOT say only one entry from any person):

    You ask, what is it? “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
    —with full credit given to former US President Bill Clinton.

  17. Is it a tall white structure?

    We just see a coffin shape because the clouds disguise the corners of the structure, spoiling the perspective that would otherwise be obvious. Suggesting it’s coffin shaped in the preamble leads the brain down the wrong path.

  18. However, due to the specifics of shape, distance and resolution I contend that it is

    Iceberg A68 prior to become A68A and A68B

  19. It’s the wreck of the Bismarck (or the Yamato), which slowly filled with methane-water ice clathrate over the years. Global warming totally triggered the sudden decomposition of the clathrate, filling the hull with methane and raising the wreck to the surface. The white is just froth, like on any decent pint of Guinness.
    This game is easy.

  20. Obviously, nature is signifying the death knell of the “CO2 control-knob” meme. It’s the clouds, stupid!

  21. Trust me, I know what it is. And no, you can’t see the data. Nor am I going to tell you. But if you don’t do exactly as I say, the planet is doomed.

    • From the comments I’ve read, and eliminating those I haven’t read or have not been made yet, I’d say there is a 97% consensus … of … something that has to do with what you said.

  22. A colorized photo of Howard Hughes’ secret Spruce flying wing Goose before it broke through the clouds.

  23. So that is where my kite wound up? Can I get it back, please? It takes a lot of thread to sew that much silk together.

  24. 1 – It’s a ginormous iceberg that Al Gorebull is renting space on for his Fear of Warming lectures. It only looks tall. Reality is that it is barely six inches above the water line.

    2 – It’s a party platform for college students on midterm breaks.

    3 – It’s a cloud painting by Andrew Wyeth.

    4 – Looks like a great place to start a Frozen Dairy Things shack.

  25. I am really astounded that the normally astute readers of this blog have not recognized the obvious.
    This is a photo of Dracula’s coffin taken as it was being transported from Transylvania.
    Due to global warming, it became too hot on the ship, so it was placed into the water and is now floating into port.

  26. It is a snow covered island that has never had snow at this time of the year before as far back as our records go.

  27. The comments are all awesome! I miss the upvote button. That said, it is obviously a coffin large enough to inter all the busted climate theories.

  28. I really have no idea what it is but I surrender. If you torture me all I am going to give is my name and address and the fact that I believe it is a satellite image of giant coffin shaped entity shrouded in clouds.

      • And we need to fundamentally change our economy, spend trillions of dollars, and starve half the world’s population in order to “fix” this bad, unprecedented human-caused thing. or something.

  29. Wat, Wait, Wait…I kn ow what it is….Its a…..Its a, Its a…. Its a Gorebull Confession Chamber ‘torqued up’ to get the attention of folks.

  30. A sheet of buoyant white plastic lies beneath recently formed frazil ice. The photo was taken about 30 feet (10 m) above the surface of the water. The experiment is another demonstration of your tax money at work.

  31. The phenomena is the result of the collision of two different atmospheric conditions.

    (Note upper left has large clouds than lower right)

  32. It looks like an ice berg to me, but it can’t be that easy!

    So a wild guess, is it a large waterfall?

  33. My adult son is doing earth sciences at college, and gave me the latest NASA report. It said, the globe had warmed 1.8F since 1880 – 2017. Now converted the Celsius, that is MINUS 16.777. C. They are teaching this I told him to point this out to the teacher, maybe they were inviting comment.

    • Whoo, close to my apparently unique notion, but not quite.

      What this looks like to me is the imprint of a wind farm along a ridge.

      (Too bad that Anthony doesn’t have the government funding for PR stuff like this, though. The “winner” would undoubtedly become more famous by being acknowledged on WUWT.)

  34. Looks to me like a cliff, with a temperature inversion and two cloud layers. One trapped by the invetsion an the cliff and one at high altitude. Need scale and topographical info to confirn or indeed have a better guess…

  35. It’s an ice floe in the ocean. The clouds above the ice appear diferent because they are leaving a shadow on the ice while in contrast not leaving a noticeable shadow on the darker ocean.

  36. PS

    Of course it is a plateau iceberg. To judge from its position (SE of South Georgia) it has calved from either the Larsen or the Filchner-Ronne ice shelves.

    The effect on clouds is because it is fairly far north, in waters noticeably above freezing, so of course low clouds are affected when they cross this significantly colder and slightly higher area.

    • Possible that there is some effect of the visible light reflecting off the ‘berg’ and heating the bottom of the clouds? Could be 15-20% open sky for reflection and at an angle. Would this be greater than the loss of upwelling LWIR from water lost by the presence of the ice?

      Heat/energy applied to the bottom of a cloud has much more of an effect than any generated/applied at the top surface.

  37. If this is not a Bat Signal viewed from on high, it’s likely a sea-surface temperature inversion possibly due to a volcanic plume, that wrings out moisture to lighten overlying cloud-cover.

  38. It’s clearly Darth Vader’s super Star Destroyer, he’s probably searching for a Rebel base and Luke.

  39. re: “You might simply tell us the location.”

    How about YOU give us some idea where this took place such that I might have some idea of the LAND features that came into play in creating this phenomenon?

  40. What is wrong with you people, don’t you read WUWT, it’s the ship of fools aka Akademik Shokalskiy, on the hand could be the steam powered Chinese ice breaker in the Arctic ocean equally stupid enterprise.

  41. Giant pile of salt with a flat top like this one. Top is bright due to sunlight, sides are shaded.…1.0..3.295.3549.0j22j4……0….1…….5..0j46j0i71j35i39j46i39j0i131j46i67j0i67j46i20i264j46i131j0i20i263i264j0i20i264j46i13j33i22i10i29i30.r0VuXJkWFkQ#imgrc=aux0rLU-1nx8AM:

  42. It’s the Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald Ford, (deck painted white during Arctic exercises for camouflage in that environment), with all aircraft stowed below deck.

  43. My guess: Sunlight reflected by a satellite, sometimes known as a “satellite flare”. The clouds surrounding the bright area are being illuminated by something much dimmer than direct sunlight, I guess moonlight or starlight.

  44. Last night, my daughter, who used to do digital mapping imagery, said she didn’t think it looked like an ice floe (cut off shelf of sea ice) — she said she thought the edges were too straight. She said it’s too bad there wasn’t an infrared image of the same area — that would confirm whether it was sea ice or not.

  45. I think the label “giant coffin” is sensationalism without any justification in the image. In fact, it’s not obvious from the image that the image is coffin-like, assuming the reference is to the seemingly solid shape underneath what appear to be clouds. For one thing, it appears rather two-dimensional, and as such comparison to a kite would be much more apt. As for it being “giant” – well, assuming we’re looking at a cloudscape, would something the size of a coffin even be visible in the object’s position? If I were forced to hazard an off the cuff guess as to the origin of this “coffin”-like image, I would suggest Russian floe hackers intent on influencing the American electorate, or at least the bible-thumping contingent.

  46. Weather balloon. Sea ice is too easy. Hearkens Deep Purple: ” Smoke on the water fire in the sky”.

  47. White plastic suspended just below the surface ,in an ice water tub, the bottom colored blue. Perhaps a trash bag, in a backyard pool , in the Rockies, soon after one of the recent cold fronts .

  48. It’s clear that the cumulus cloud deck is unaffected by the “coffin-shaped” object beneath it, so the two things are quite independent. That object has high albedo, and its edges are sharp and almost linear, both indicating that the object is solid. This would mean that the object must be floating on the water surface beneath the cloud deck, and therefore it must have a lower density than the water on which it’s floating. Considering all the foregoing, the most likely explanation is that the object is water ice, probably broken off a floating ice shelf. The “coffin” shape would therefore be purely accidental.

  49. giant ice berg purposefully calved in the shape of a dagger
    headed towards Brazil
    ramming speed required

    they must be punished for electing a nationalist

  50. Back when I was nothing but a lowly puke with aspirations of becoming a full member of the DTD fraternity, I was occasionally required to define my current status. The only acceptable answer was “sir, I am so low that whale sh!t on the bottom of the ocean looks like fleecy white clouds way up in the sky.” Could that be the bottom of an ice berg? I don’t trust the too-obvious answer.

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