Feeds

Mysterious sat-pic China desert markings - EXPLAINED

NASA expert enlightens puzzled Google Earth fans

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.