Which world?

By Phil Plait | May 25, 2010 10:30 am

Quick: of all the worlds in our solar system, which one is this?


Stumped? Go to Emily Lakdawalla’s post at The Planetary Society blog for the answer.


Comments (30)

  1. Richard Wolford

    Looks like Earth to me.

  2. I’m not going to spoil it in the comments but taken like that I never would have guessed. Interesting picture.

  3. Jim Eder

    Looks like Titan to me.

  4. MoonShark

    Okay I’ll make myself look dumb by guessing: Mercury? Or with a quick Wikipedia browse (just images), it reminds me of a moon of Uranus, maybe Ariel or Titania. But I didn’t think we had much in the way of probes there. Enceladus (of Saturn)? None of these explain the dark streaks very well… it’s probably something more familiar but outside the visible spectrum.

    (Okay, clicked link) — Ah, neato :) I need a bigger version now!

  5. Jeff in Tucson

    I guessed Io…D’oh!

  6. It’s Nibiru! Run!

  7. Jeff in Tucson

    @ J. Major: ROFL +1 internets for you

  8. This is cool because of the way it was taken, but I loved the crescent versions more. It was so odd to see it look like the moon.

  9. chrisj

    I guessed right. Amazing how much color plays on identification. Although I think I knew it because of black and white sci-fi.

  10. nasagirl

    Ha! I was right!

  11. At first glance I guessed Io too. Neat image!

  12. Utakata

    I cheated. I based it on 4 possible bodies based on the objects texture instead of guessing at one. I guess I was one quarter right. :)

    …the pic’s source is also a hint.

  13. I guessed it, but only because I am so used to looking at IR images as of late. :)

  14. I, for one, welcome our giant IR-seeing overlords.

    I was right as to what it is, but I wonder if I would have gotten it right if the image were large enough to see more detail?

  15. IBY

    Yay, I guessed right!

  16. Moxiequz

    Our “Pale Grey Dot” of a planet….neat!

  17. At first I thought “wow, how did New Horizons get to Pluto five years early?” But I guessed Io knowing it probably wrong. I should have been more open minded, and suspicious of IR trickery!

  18. QuietDesperation

    ZOMG! Planet X! ūüėĮ

  19. Chip

    I read Emily Lakdawalla’s post and it is informative and fact based – despite that, its obvious that the world depicted is really Metaluna.

  20. I got it; I’ll second chrisj that I might have an edge in thinking in black and white that the average joe/jane doesn’t have ūüėČ

  21. I thought Titan, but stand corrected! It’s probably because it is mono long wave IR

  22. gwensdad

    It’s Mondos! The Cybermen have come! RUN!

  23. wright1

    Hah, my guess was Io! Very interesting.

  24. I just gotta brag… I totally got this one, not only guessing the planet, but the image type, too. ‘course, it helps that the south pole sticks out like a sore thumb…

  25. Messier Tidy Upper

    It is Earth in IR but it *could* be Pluto in visible light … as well. We won’t know for sure until 2015. :-)

    I had a feeling it was going to be Earth but wasn’t 100% sure.

    I am a bit surprised that no-one answered Enceladus or Mimas though. ūüėČ

    Great image – & I love the crescent earth ones on Emily’s linked blog item too. :-)

  26. You know what’s strange is that to me it doesn’t even look real. It looks like some cheap effect from an old Flash Gordon or something.

  27. Ashley Moore

    Some Pale Infrared Dot…

  28. Blondin

    I thought it was the World Ceres.

  29. Tom K

    Just think about if there were Martian versions of Percival Lowell on Mars, how difficult it would be for them to map the surface of the Earth while peering through a telescope. The ever-changing cloud patterns would obstruct clear views of the land masses. It might even be difficult to get an accurate handle on the Earth’s rotation period. I think the results might look a lot like world maps from the 1500-1600’s.

    On the other hand, their map of the far side of the Moon would be just as good as their version of the near side.


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