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Wednesday, 16 November 2011 19:49

Spy Sat Calibrators? King-Sized Jokes? China's Colossal Structures Confound

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Spy Sat Calibrators? King-Sized Jokes? China's Colossal Structures Confound

There seems to be no end to the weird and king-sized structures populating China’s desert — or to the explanation for these megaprojects.

Take the giant jigsaw-like grids that started the latest wave of interest in these mysteries of the Gobi. Some suggest they are hoaxes perpetrated on the Google Earth-obsessed. Jonathan Hill, a research technician at the Mars Space Flight Facility, notes that the grids can be viewed from space. So maybe they’re used to calibrate China’s spy satellites. In an interview with Life’s Little Secrets,Hill cites this white cross, which was created in the 1960s in Casa Grande, Arizona, by the U.S. to calibrate their orbiting eyes in the sky.

But that doesn’t explain this Masonic-looking pair of patterns, etched into the desert. Clearly, there’s more going on than just a spy cam focal point. Some believe it is the Yaerbashi training airfield of the Chinese air force’s 8th Flying Academy, or perhaps China’s Yaerbashi Test Range. Others wonder if it might be a giant joke played on sat-spotters.

“As to what the figure-8 things and the weird glyphs on the northern chevron are, I have no real idea,” emails former CIA analyst Allen Thomson. “Although it wouldn’t surprise me if the glyphs were made by some people who were bored out of their minds by being stuck out in the middle of nowhere and decided to have some fun with the eyes in the sky.”

If it’s a giant gag, it’s not the only one. Check out all the things Danger Room’s readers have found in the last day, scouring Google Earth’s images of the Gobi.

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Spy Sat Calibrators? King-Sized Jokes? China's Colossal Structures ConfoundNoah Shachtman is a contributing editor at Wired magazine, a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution and the editor of this little blog right here.
Follow @dangerroom on Twitter.


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