Mystery lines show up in satellite image of Caspian Sea

By Stephanie Pappas
April 30, 2016, 3:42:48 AM EDT


From 438 miles (705 kilometers) up, the floor of the north Caspian Sea looks like someone's just scoured it with a Brillo Pad. What could these bizarre marks be? Trawling scars? Propeller marks in sea algae or seagrass? An extraterrestrial message?

Don't get out the tinfoil hat yet: NASA scientists say these mystery lines are the work of sea ice.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center ocean scientists noticed the image this month, shortly after it was acquired by the Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite, according to NASA's Earth Observatory. The space agency put out the puzzler on Twitter, asking readers what the lines might be.

Now, the answer seems clear. Stanislav Ogorodov, an earth scientist at Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russi, told the Earth Observatory that the phenomenon was almost certainly all natural: "Undoubtedly, most of these tracks are the result of ice gouging," he said.

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