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Pioneer of Earth Observation Mystery Cache

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1.5 out of 5

Size: Size:   regular (regular)

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Geocache Description:

This geocache is not at the posted coordinates, but it is nearby. There are two ways to obtain the posted coordinates. Both should take less than five minutes

  • Solve the cryptogram below
  • Click on the picture below and complete the jigsaw puzzle to reveal the coordinates

This park, located 13 miles west of Lompoc, provides the only beach access in this area. Take Highway 246 nearly to the coast, turning right on Ocean Park Road to the park entrance. It is open 8:00 a.m. to sunset. NOTE:  Access to this park may be restricted during launches from Vandenburg Space Force Base.

William T. Pecora was a pioneer of Earth observation who laid the foundation for the innovative earth science research taking place today. 

Pecora joined the USGS in 1939 and worked with the Strategic Minerals program. He discovered nine new minerals during his field studies of nickel deposits in Alaska, Oregon, and Nevada; and of nickel and pegmatite deposits in South America. His research on nickel was recognized by naming a new mineral after him - pecoraite (Ni6Si4 O10(OH)8), a nickel clinochrysotile. 

Named USGS Chief Geologist in 1964, Pecora was largely responsible for the establishment of the Survey’s National Center for Earthquake Research and for the initial acceleration of the Survey’s research on earthquake hazards reduction. After the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969, he organized and led the work necessary to revise offshore regulations and obtain the support required for their enforcement. 

During the 1950s Pecora had been aware, along with agricultural scientists and other geologists, that aerial surveys of land surfaces could reveal features that were difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to trace on the ground. By the mid-1960s, the U.S. Department of Defense had launched a series of classified Earth-observing satellites that obtained highly detailed photos of small areas. In addition, NASA had launched a series of civilian weather satellites that provided coverage of the entire Earth at a much lower resolution. 

In 1965 Pecora was appointed Director of the USGS and while NASA had its eyes on the moon, Pecora had his eye on exploring ideas for an Earth-observing satellite. By the fall of 1966, Pecora convinced Interior Secretary Stewart Udall to announce a new USGS Project called EROS: an Earth Resources Observation Satellite program utilizing remote sensing from satellites and high-altitude aircraft to acquire data about the earth and its resources. In a statement that echoes true to this day, Udall said: “…the time is now right and urgent to apply space technology towards the solution of many pressing natural resources problems being compounded by population and industrial growth.” 

USGS Director William T. Pecora briefs Secretary Udall on the Earth Resources Observation Satellite (EROS) project. Credit: USGS

Pecora took the lead on developing the EROS program which ultimately led to the creation of NASA’s Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS), later renamed Landsat. Pecora collaborated closely with NASA, enabling the USGS to accelerate its remote sensing research in analyzing the potential values of surveying the Earth from space.

In April 1971, Pecora left the USGS to become Under Secretary of the Interior and served in that capacity until his untimely death just four days before the launch of the first Landsat satellite on July 23, 1972.

Cryptogram Solution: Final is at N 34 41.a b c  W 120 35.d e f

  • a = irxu (ROT 3)    b = luax (ROT 6)    c = inax (ROT 9)
  • d = qlqh (ROT 3)   e = ykbkt (ROT 6)    f  = oxda (ROT 9)

Jigsaw Solution: Click on this image and complete the Jig Saw puzzle to obtain the coordinates for the final.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Guvf FunerOrne64 trbpnpur vf orybj xarr yriry.

Vg vf ure uvqr. Lbh jvyy arrq gb hfr lbhe cubar'f oebjfre gb tb gb trbpnpuvat.pbz/nppbhag/zrffntrpragre gb zrffntr vs lbh arrq na nqqvgvbany uvag.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)