Google Earth Chinese Desert Discovery Revealed

Google Earth recently discovered a strange structure in the desert of China, and analysts were puzzled. They aren’t puzzled any more, as answers are being revealed.

Buildings captured in a set of satellite images in the Chinese desert are probably just commercial warehouses, not secret military facilities as some have claimed. The images created a mystery posed publicly by an ex-CIA analyst in the desert around Kashgar, a city in Xinjiang province. The site includes large buildings, including a large U-shaped building. In the wake of China’s recent anti-satellite tests, it’s not surprising that speculation quickly arose from the discovery.

Stefan Geens, a technologist and blogger who has spent months in that area of China observing developments, told Live Science:

“Kashgar was chosen as a special economic zone. That means Shenzen-style development.”

To understand what an image may be, analysts search for rail, road or power lines, read the building’s footprint, and they may even measure the shadows to determine the height of the buildings, said Stuart Hamilton, the GIS program director at the College of William and Mary.

Figuring out what people are using those buildings for is a bit trickier than just understanding the way it’s built.

Hamilton told Live Science:

“This is really a classic example of you have two things going on. You can see quite clearly what the land cover is, but land use is a much more difficult problem.”

According to Yahoo News, China announced plans to build a special economic zone in Kashgar a few years ago, creating high-speed rail lines and razing ancient Islamic buildings in the heart of the city. This fully explains the images found on Google Earth.

So now we know what the images are. The mystery is solved.