The International Space Station and an Attempt at Puzzle Hunt Creation


The last line of each clue (e.g. “XX??? X? X?? ????“) can be “decoded” using all the other parts of the clue. There are three types of information in the clues:

  • The satellite photos are images that each look a bit like a letter of the alphabet. If you can’t tell what letter they’re supposed to be, check the list of satellite photos in the briefing book; it lists them in alphabetical order. These images fill in the globe characters in the bottom line, in the order they’re stapled in.
  • The green numbers are timestamps that index into the coordinates in the briefing book. Each row of the coordinates document starts with a timestamps like “2018-Nov-15 06:56”, and the last part of that “06:56” is what you should use to match against the green numbers in the clue. The indexed row will then have some numbers highlighted in red. These numbers fill in the green question marks in the bottom row. The number of green question marks should be the same as the number of highlighted digits in the coordinates.
  • The missions launched in a specific year. This year fills in the red question marks at the end of the bottom row.

Every specific capsule clue will use two of the three kinds. The grey X’s show where that capsule does not contain the solution to that part. Thus you might be wondering, how do I fill in that information? The answer is that the capsules are partly redundant; each bottom line is a code that is encoded by three different capsules. Since each capsule has two of the three parts, you only need two capsules to decode the bottom line. Having all three can be useful for increasing your confidence that you’ve decoded that part correctly.

Putting all this together, a decoded sample bottom line looks like this;

  • TX819 H4 B58 2017

If you’ve found enough capsules in the European section, here are the decoded lines you have;

  • TX819 H4 B58 2017
  • TJ200 C76 2002
  • UG1242 G85 N54 2012

Can you figure out what these mean? If you think you’ve figured it out, or if you just want the answer, go to the next page.

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