MISR Where on Earth...? Quiz #30

The Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) team at NASA is pleased to offer the 30th Where on Earth...? quiz.

Here’s how it works: When you press “Start,” you will be presented with nine multiple-choice questions (one question for each of MISR's nine cameras) about the area seen in the image in the background. You are encouraged to research the answers using any websites or reference materials you like. You cannot go back to previous questions, so make sure of your answer before proceeding! If you answer all questions correctly, you will have a chance to enter for a prize. The deadline for prize entries is August 8, 2018, at 4:00 p.m. PDT.

This natural color image was acquired by the vertical-viewing camera of the MISR instrument in July 2017 and represents an area of about 290 miles by 210 miles (470 kilometers by 340 kilometers). Note that north is not necessarily at the top.


1. Notable Nutrition

Which of the following food items traded on this route was originally from the area shown in the image?

Saffron comes from a variety of crocus native to Greece. Pistachios were one of the earliest agricultural crops, but are believed to be native to the Middle East. Cucumbers originated in India, and tea (made from the shrub Camellia sinensis) is native to China and southeast Asia. Research has shown the domestic apple (Malus domestica) was originally derived from a wild variety called Malus sieversii, which is still found growing in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and China.

2. Where on Earth?

Which countries are visible in this image?

This image shows portions of China, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

3. Past Facts

The shores of Lake Issyk-Kul are home to several historical sites Kyrgyzstan has submitted to UNESCO as potential World Heritage Sites. What were these sites used for?

While the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul do feature mosques built by the Dungans or Hui, continue to be home to Kyrgyz who continue their nomadic tradition, and are rumored to be the site of a palace built by Tamerlane, the historic sites submitted as a so-called “Tentative List” to UNESCO are all concerned with the Silk Road.

4. Lots of Lakes

Which of the following is NOT a description of any of the many lakes within Kyrgyzstan or Kazakhstan?

Kaindy Lake in Kazakhstan was formed by a landslide during an earthquake in 1911. Many hikers travel to see the submerged trees in its clear waters. Lake Balkhash, in Kazakhstan, is split almost in two by a peninsula, with the eastern, deep portion having salty water while the western, shallow half has much fresher water. Lake Issyk-Kul, the largest lake in Kyrgyzstan, never freezes over despite its mountainous location, partially due to hot springs within it. Merzbacher Lake is a proglacial lake, meaning it is dammed by a glacier; every summer as the glacier melts, the lake drains and then reforms in the winter. However, there is only one freshwater mammal known to live in a single lake, which is the Baikal seal of Lake Baikal in Russia.

5. Issyk-Kul Items

Issyk Kul at Kaji-Say, Evgeni Zotov, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Which of the following statements about Lake Issyk-Kul is FALSE?

Issyk Kul at Kaji-Say, Evgeni Zotov, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Like other endoheric lakes (lakes with no outlet), Lake Issyk-Kul is slightly salty. The salinity is about 6 grams per liter, compared to 35 grams per liter in the ocean. The lake level tends to rise and fall over time, as the flow of the rivers feeding it changes. Studies have shown that the level has changed by as much as 1300 ft. Since the lake was considerably lower in the past, structures built on the shore have now been swallowed up by the lake. These ruins have not been extensively studied in modern times, but some are believed to be over 2500 years old. Due to the great depth of Lake Issyk-Kul, Russia and India have both signed agreements with Kyrgyzstan at various times to test naval technology there.

6. Cat Facts

Which of the following wild cats (referred to by their scientific names) are NOT native to the area shown in the image?

The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), snow leopard (Panthera uncia), and Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul) all live in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) is found in southern Africa.

7. Poetry Proofs

The flag of Kyrgyzstan incorporates two main elements, one of which makes reference to an epic poem central to the Kyrgyz culture. Due to its oral tradition, its rendition depends on the performer. What is the largest number of generations of the hero and his descendants known to have been incorporated into a performance?

The epic of Manas is arguably the centerpiece of Kyrgyz literature, and traditionally is performed by experts known as manaschi or jomokchu. In order to be considered a master of the epic, performers are expected to be able to improvise on the version they learned from their mentors; thus, the epic has many versions and evolves over time. While most versions are comprised of three cycles concerning the hero Manas, his son Semetei and his grandson Seitek, the manaschi Jusup Mamai’s version documented seventeen generations of Manas’ family.

8. Flag facts

The other main element of the Kyrgyzstan flag is where you would find examples of a certain colorful Kyrgyz traditional artform. Which of these is NOT a common motif used in this artform?

The inside of a yurt is traditionally insulated and decorated with colorful felt rugs called shyrdaks. Common design motifs include the stylized horn of a ram; a heart-like design symbolizing a kumiz drinking vessel; and bird feet. Snakes, however, are not a usual design.

9. Cat Facts 2

Pallas cat, Scottmliddell, CC BY 2.0 UK

Which of the following is TRUE about the Pallas’s cat?

Pallas cat, Scottmliddell, CC BY 2.0 UK
Pallas’s cats are hardy creatures capable of surviving extreme conditions, but the highest one has ever been observed was 5050 meters (about 16500 feet). They do hunt Tolai hares, but their main prey for most of the year is pikas. In the winter, they sometimes resort to eating insects when pikas are scarce. Their name derives from the German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas, who hypothesized that they were the ancestor of domestic Persian cats. However, all domestic cats are believed to be descended from the species Felis silvestris.