Google Earth has been a marvel of technology since its inception, from giving us real-world glimpses into places we’ve never seen, to parodies done on the TV series Family Guy. Occasionally something strange turns up that we never expected, such as what happened in the Chinese desert.
Since Google Earth launched in 2005, there have been odd images of all sorts, including a supposed plane in the water, a man in a horse mask, even the face of Jesus, captured by the satellites used for the virtual mapping program. But according to Allen Thomson, this one may be the weirdest.
Thomson wrote in an email:
“I haven’t the faintest clue what it might be. But it’s extensive, the structures are pretty big and funny-looking, and it went up in what I’d call an incredible hurry.”
Thomson has made something of a second career finding odd stuff in public satellite imagery, says Wired:
“He discovered these giant grids etched into the Chinese desert in 2011, and a suspected underground missile bunker in Iran in 2008. When the Israeli Air Force destroyed a mysterious facility in Syria the year before, Thomson put together an 812-page dossier on the so-called ‘Box on the Euphrates.’ Old analyst habits die hard, it seems.”
Wired is asking for theories from readers to pass along to Thomson, but at this point the desert structure remains to be explained.