More than a year ago, mysterious structures spotted by Google Earth satellites in China's Gobi desert caused quite a stir, especially as people tried to identify just what they could be. Now, more baffling structures were discovered by a former CIA analyst and even he can't quite put his finger on what they could be for.
Wired's DangerRoom reported that Allen Thomson was looking for something unrelated on Google Earth in southwestern China -- an orbital tracking site that he'd seen mentioned on a space news website -- when he stumbled upon structures he could only describe to Wired as "pretty big and funny-looking."
Here is the complex he found on Google Earth at 39.6 N, 76.1 E near the city of Kashgar.
(Image: Google Earth via Wired)
The man who worked for the CIA from 1972 to 1985 and with the National Intelligence Council until 1996 told Wired he doesn't have a clue what the complex is but does point out that it "went up in what I’d call an incredible hurry," based on the dates of the images.
The image on the left shows the foundation for one of the largest buildings on the site on July 21, 2011. The image on the right shows the progress made on the structure by Nov. 16, 2011. (Image: Google Earth via Wired)
The image on the left here shows the state of the middle structures in the complex as of July 21, 2011, while the right shows them on Nov. 16, 2011. (Images: Google Earth via Wired)
Wired explained that this isn't Thomson's first aerial find. He found some of the grid-like images in China's Gobi desert in 2011 and in 2008 found what was thought to be a missile bunker in Iran.
See all 10 of the images Thomson pulled out here. Let us know in the comments what you think this complex could be.
While we're on the subject of Google Earth revealing potentially secret structures in China (it has been accused of revealing secret areas in the United States in the past as well), North Korea is a secretive frontier for which the satellite tool has been used to gain insights into what is going on there. In fact, Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is in the country this week on a private humanitarian mission, which was not supported by the U.S. State Department. Reuters pointed out though that Google Earth might not be something Schmidt will showcase to North Koreans.
One way Google Earth has been used in North Korea is to reveal its prison camps, or gulag system. TheBlaze has reported about the images showing such camps before. Some bloggers, like Curtis Melvin and Joshua Stanton, make frequent use of Google Earth not only to expose the camps but other facilities in North Korea.
"It opens up areas of North Korea that no foreigners are allowed to see at all," Melvin said to Reuters.