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What's missing? The answer to that is a 6-letter word. Can you figure out what that word is?


  • Arkansas river, USA
  • Bahrain Island, Bahrain
  • Akimiski Island, Canada
  • Mountain ranges, Southeastern Tibet
  • Pinaki Island, French Polynesia
  • Rivers, southeastern Kyrgyzstan
  • Trunk reef, Australia
  • Sirmilik National Park Pond Inlet, Canada
  • Snow, north eastern USA
  • Tian Shan mountains, northeastern Kyrgyzstan
  • Ship tracks over the Pacific
  • Mackenzie River Delta, Canada
  • Lonar Crater, India
  • Lago Menendez, Argentina
  • Clouds swirling over the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Development along two roads, United Arab Emirates.
  • Ash on the snow around Shiveluch, Russia
  • Dust blowing over the Red Sea
  • Northwest corner of Leidy Glacier, Greenland.
  • Ugab River, Namibia.
  • Wildfire smoke, Canada.
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2 Answers 2

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The missing word is

VOWELS

Explanation:

The bullet points describe images in the ABCs from space as published by the NASA Earth Observatory. This is a set of images taken from space that look like letters of the alphabet.

The following images are missing:
1. Green River, USA A riverbend that looks like a lowercase "a"
2. Phytoplankton, New Zealand Swirls of phytoplankton in the shape of a lowercase "e"
3. Andaman Islands, India A tall and a small island arranged like a lowercase "i"
4. Tenoumer Crater, Mauritania A nearly circular crater looking like an "o".
5. River in Gooseneck State Park, Utah A riverbend in the shape of a "u"

They represent the letters A,E,I,O,U or, in one 6-letter word, the "vowels".

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    $\begingroup$ I realise you pipped me to the post by 4 minutes, but I figured that I had some slightly different content in my answer (re the solving process and the identities of all items in the list) that would be worth posting anyway as a complementary answer to yours. Well done :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jun 26, 2023 at 15:10
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    $\begingroup$ That's indeed the 6-letter word I was looking for. Great job! $\endgroup$ Jun 26, 2023 at 15:24
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I'm pretty sure the word here is:

VOWELS

Because what I originally suspected the OP had done here is...

...scour satellite images - probably on Google Maps/Earth - to find natural formations that resemble consonants of the English alphabet.

I then set about searching Google Maps for many of these and found some immediately (e.g. Akimiski Island (pictured below) is a clear 'D' shape, Pinaki Island makes an excellent 'G', Trunk Reef is clearly a lower-case 'j', Lago Menendez makes a lower-case 'r', and there's a great 'X' in the view of Leidy Glacier).

Akimiski Island, in the shape of a letter 'D'

However, some of them were going to be particularly hard to pinpoint exactly - anyone who could identify from 'Clouds swirling over the Atlantic Ocean' the exact S-shaped cloud formation from more than 100 million square kilometres of photographed ocean deserves a medal of some kind... And it was when searching Google for terms like 'the letter B in the Arkansas River' that I stumbled upon this website, in which somebody from NASA has made a list of this exact concept! And - wouldn't you know it - the OP has used many of the same items!

From this list, we get:

Arkansas river, USA = b
Bahrain Island, Bahrain = C
Akimiski Island, Canada = D
Mountain ranges, Southeastern Tibet = F
Pinaki Island, French Polynesia = G
Rivers, southeastern Kyrgyzstan = H
Trunk reef, Australia = j
Sirmilik National Park Pond Inlet, Canada = K (the glaciers within it)
Snow, north eastern USA = L
Tian Shan mountains, northeastern Kyrgyzstan = m
Ship tracks over the Pacific = N
Mackenzie River Delta, Canada = P
Lonar Crater, India = Q
Lago Menendez, Argentina = r
Clouds swirling over the Atlantic Ocean = S
Development along two roads, United Arab Emirates = T
Ash on the snow around Shiveluch, Russia = V
Dust blowing over the Red Sea = w
Northwest corner of Leidy Glacier, Greenland = X
Ugab River, Namibia = Y
Wildfire smoke, Canada = Z

All of which means that we are missing...

...the items from this list which represent the English VOWELS - our missing 6-letter word.

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    $\begingroup$ Great job! I'm giving the tick to @xyldke since he/she answered a couple of minutes earlier than you, with the same anwer, but well done anyways! $\endgroup$ Jun 26, 2023 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Prim3numbah Not a problem - theirs is a good and correct answer and they got there before me :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jun 26, 2023 at 15:34

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