Feeds

Mysterious sat-pic China desert markings - EXPLAINED

NASA expert enlightens puzzled Google Earth fans

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The grids of white lines in China's Gobi desert that have got the world's conspiracy theorists in a lather for a week, are actually calibration targets used to help China's spy satellites, says a NASA researcher.

Since the 65ft-wide white line patterns were spotted on Google Earth, it has been speculated that they were anything from missile testing sites to alien writing.

Chinese structure, credit Google Earth

Now believed to be a satellite calibration target

But they are almost definitely images used to calibrate satellites according to Jonathon Hill, a research technician and mission planner at the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University who spoke to site LifesLittleMysteries.

Satellite cameras will focus on the grids to orient themselves in space. The large size of the grids discovered suggests that the cameras have relatively poor resolution according to Hill.

And they look like they're paint too he says, explaining that the surface has little cracks in it which means it's unlikely to be reflective metal. Chalk or dust would go streaky.

Another feature photoed by Google showed abandoned planes in a circular "Stonehenge" style pattern of bumps - and that's most likely to be a radar test to see how visible military equipment is from the air. It could also allow the Chinese insights into picking out other countries' hidden military bases.

Like the US and Britain, China has spy satellites in orbit around the earth so the discovery of these orientation and testing sites is no huge surprise. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.