Since our space probes and radio beams first plumbed the cosmos, mankind has sent into the void numerous notices describing our location. Today NASA announced the recovery of a golden object that crashed into the ocean yesterday from space. Scientists assume it has been produced by an extraterrestrial intelligence that has been observing us and our pastimes from afar, and is now telling us its location in turn. The world's greatest minds are in a race to decrypt this mystery...
- The question: Where has this object come from?
Below is a photograph, courtesy of NASA:
As the puzzle has stagnated after very significant progress was made, here is a hint in case anyone is still interested...
@oldmansutton (building on @Deusovi, @Stiv, and a few others) has found the intended identity of 6 of the squares, though their answers for squares 4, 8, 13, and 15 need some minor tweaking. What remains for this step is a little bit more rebus work. Partial answers are welcomed, so I can see which squares are too obscure and need a hint. Squares 6, 11, and 12 would be a good next step, as they're simple visual representations/rebuses. You'll need to get all the squares identified before you move onto the next step (which should be an obvious one).
This is a direct photograph of the mysterious thing, so the image file and any metadata/steganography are of course irrelevant. What you see here is the only bit of the object that is of interest. As the object is detailed, you may find useful a higher-resolution photo on imgur, although the one above would probably suffice. The original full image I got from NASA (an approximately 10000x10000 lossless .png) can be found on Google Drive.