Massive Test Sites in Chinese Desert Located with Google Earth
November 14, 2011
Yesterday Gizmodo posted some incredible Google Earth screengrabs of Chinese-built test sites in a remote part of the Tibetan Plateau. There’s a number of geometric variations (a circular grid with fighter jets at their centers, an oblique fractal-esque pattern, a long grid of light squares), but as Gizmodo notes, the massive scale of the patterns “seem designed to be seen from orbit.” The site you see above, for example, is about a mile long.
Speculation as to the nature of the testing being carried out at these sites is rampant (seems likely to be related to satellite targeting), but what’s really fascinating about the story is that civilians half a world away identified these sites independently – we wonder what the fall-out (so to speak) would have been, had Google Earth been available when the US government was conducting extensive weapons testing in the American southwest in the 50s and 60s. Read on.
Gizmodo’s commenters are floating a number of explanations for the geometries of the site patterns, some of them verging on the ridiculous (does the above map somehow calibrate to the D.C street grid?), but it is interesting to think about what the lines could possibly correspond to. We’d imagine the angles are derived from the spectrum of plausible geographic challenges that a targeting system could encounter. Unless the whole thing is just a giant lasertag park.
Here are a few more of the images, with the full story over at Gizmodo: