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The Most Mysterious Discoveries Made by Satellites

Written by Laura Davies

In 2007, a resident of Lantana Florida was doing what we’ve all done, Google Earthing his house and flying around being nosey. Presumably hoping to spot a crop circle or bat signal painted on someone’s roof. Instead, he found what looked like a submerged car and reported it to the police. They dredged it out and discovered the decomposed remains of William Moldt, who’d been reported missing after failing to return from a night out 10 years earlier. Without satellites who knows how much longer the mystery of his disappearance would’ve remained unsolved.

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Of course, satellite imaging hasn’t just led to cases being closed. A fair few have been opened, like the Beatrixpark Dock Murder Spot. Frantic Google Earthers rushed to report a brutal killing to police when they came across a trail of blood leading down a small pier with two figures standing by the water. Clearly, a murderer had dragged his victim’s bloodied corpse along the pier and was intending to dump the body. Thankfully, it turned out to be a man and his dog. The blood was just discolouration of the wooden dock where it was wet.

This fantastic story is just the tip of the iceberg, as once you give people the ability to spy on anything they like, they will, and they’ve uncovered some pretty amazing things. A marriage proposal written on a roof, a friendly oil refinery in Virginia with a smiley face, an island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island and a 9x7km scale model of the disputed India-China border presumably used to plan attacks. Sorry, took a dark turn for a moment there. The point is, satellites have made loads of fascinating discoveries and here’s the top 5.

5. Gobi patterns

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hay_Close_Farm_Maize_Maze.jpg

One of the best things about satellite images is that they’ve given us a glimpse of incredible works impossible to appreciate from the ground. Some of the most recent discoveries include a corn maze of Oprah’s face, a giant pink knitted rabbit, and a church built, hopefully accidentally, in the shape of a penis.

One pass of a satellite even picked up a neighbour dispute from space. Apparently, someone had the audacity to paint their garage purple. This upset locals so much that they began a petition to have the offending building, which they’d dubbed the ‘purple people eater’, repainted. When the owner refused, his neighbour to the north decided to immortalise his anger by mowing ‘A-Hole’ with an arrow pointing to the garage into his lawn.

Not all of the mysterious ground patterns picked up by satellites have been so simple to solve. While most represent recognisable symbols, like the Nazca lines in Peru, the Coca Cola logo in Chile or the art installation ‘Desert Breath’ in Egypt. Some seem completely random or so ugly they’re artistically pointless.

Two examples of these confusing features are the Gobi Desert Patterns and the Patterns on the site of RAF Feltwell in England. They’ve been discovered in many other countries too. The patterns themselves are completely different, but most cover a large rectangular area.

Theories from armchair satellite detectives mostly blame aliens, of course, art or religion. However, the most likely explanation is ‘it’s classified’.

Yes, it’s the military. The strange and seemingly random patterns are probably calibration points for spy satellites. The fact that China, the UK, America and all of the other countries they’ve been spotted in are known to use this technology adds weight to the explanation. Plus, many are located near military bases. Pretty much case closed.

Unless you’re an alien conspiracy theorist who’d go so far as to suggest the bases had been built in these locations after the discovery of the patterns, to guard the secret of extra-terrestrial contact. And who’s to say the marks were made by the aliens. Maybe they were made by us to communicate with otherworldly beings.

You might think I’m saying that sarcastically but if you take a casual Google Earth stroll over New Mexico you might just notice some patterns carved into the mountains. These were created by the church of Scientology to mark the location of their hidden vaults, which contain the original texts of the founder L. Ron Hubbard.  The enormous symbols are there to guide future followers to the site when they return from space, having fled whatever horrifying fate awaits non-believers. Presumably pandemic or nuclear war. Something practically unimaginable and way in the future like that.

4. Area 51

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Groom_Lake,_Area_51,_North_of_Las_Vegas,_Nevada_(17576998524).jpg

Speaking of aliens and mysteries, let’s talk about Area 51. Built in 1955 to train U-2 pilots and develop planes, the site is most famous for housing the remnants of the 1947 Roswell incident. The government say the debris stored there includes the balloons, sensors and radar reflectors from classified Project Mogul. Others say the remains collected came from a UFO and its alien pilot was likely recovered too.

 Of course, the government have done little to quell rumours by keeping the base a tightly guarded secret. It boasts armed guards, no president has ever visited and a strict no-fly zone made aerial photography impossible. However, thanks to the 1992 ‘open skies’ treaty and a Russian satellite launched in 1998, Area 51 has been exposed for all to see. At least what’s outside and above ground.

When the first images were uploaded in 2000, the site couldn’t handle the sheer number of views and hacks and it crashed. This drove conspiracy theories through the roof as, clearly, the government was bringing down the site to shield their secrets from public eyes. However, when it was brought back online many eager alien hunters were sorely disappointed by the scenes of normal hangers, nondescript buildings and down to earth facilities like a baseball diamond and tennis courts. Although, what would you expect? Obviously, they keep the good stuff hidden underground.

So what mysteries have arisen from the satellites getting a cheeky glimpse into one of the most secretive places on Earth?

Firstly, one Google Earth user claims to have discovered a secret entrance leading into an underground portion of area 51. A road from the main site leads up to a small car park and 2 arched entrances straight into a mountain. While not exactly ground-breaking as, I don’t know about you but, I naturally assumed Area 51 would have some kind of underground, carved into rock bunker, situation going on. However, it proves there’s more there than can be seen from space.

Secondly and more dubious is the 16m tall robots. Yes, full-on transformer style humanoid, 2 arms, 2 legs, robots. In 2020 another Google Earth user spotted them casually lying above ground for all satellites to see. Now, it’s seriously doubtful these are genuine battle bots. For a start, if you go back in time on Google Earth and check out the old shots, the ‘robot’ is visible in all of them. However, its ‘pose’ changes slightly each time, going from lying on its back to its side. While some give this as evidence of a long term project, I’d like to think that if a government spent presumably millions of dollars developing an enormous robot they wouldn’t just leave it lying outside for years. They’ve not even bothered to cover it with a tarp.

This, of course, doesn’t mean it’s not a mystery. There’s definitely a robot shaped object there and it is 16 meters long. What is it? The most compelling theory is that some of the people working there thought it’d be funny to mess with conspiracy theorists by piling storage crates in the shape of a robot. Or maybe they were attempting to trick Russian spy satellites. Convincing them that they’re working on walking, talking robots, instead of something strategically useful, like planes.

The final mystery emerged in 2022 when eagle-eyed satellite watchers noticed a new style of plane being transported in an uncovered structure. It’s a delta-shaped craft approximately 65 feet long, 50 feet wide and plane enthusiasts are excited. The size and shape is similar to the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) and 6th generation fighter concepts that have been released. These are intended to enter the field in 2030 with improvements in propulsion, stealth, advanced weapons, and digital design that will set them to replace the current f-22s. Have we had the first glimpse? No civilian knows.

https://flic.kr/p/3pk7vb

3. The Kraken

Since the release of Google Earth, hundreds of monster hunters have taken to their seats to spend hours scouring the oceans for, well, anything other than blurry blue pixels. Hundreds more have taken to Photoshop to claim all of the glory with none of the dull scouring. We’ve had a giant Crabzilla off the coast of Whitstable, England, a 120m giant centipede near Scotland and megalodons almost everywhere! However, very occasionally, weird ocean anomalies are picked up by satellites, providing some actual mysteries to solve.

Most are quick to crack, like the Oke Bay giant sea worm that turned out to be the wake of a boat, the latest sighting of the Loch Ness monster that turned out to be the wake of a boat and a Russian lake leviathan that turned out to be. No, nothing to do with a boat. It was sand.

By far the most famous of these is the Antarctic Kraken which can still be seen on Google Earth just south of Deception Island. At first sight, it resembles the legendary Kraken. A terrifying, Norwegian octopus-like sea monster with a taste for sinking ships.

It was first described by Francesco Negri in 1700 in his Scandinavian travelogue as a massive fish that was many horned and many armed. Hans Egede, a Dano-Norwegian missionary, elaborated further, claiming it had many heads and claws, its body was many miles long and when it emerged it seemed to cover the whole sea.

Of course, their claims have since been dismissed as vast exaggerations of a giant squid, which measure mere 13m in length and lack the multiple heads and whirlpool inducing body. That is until Google got involved and provided satellite evidence for all to see. The image is 100% real. There’s been no sneaky photoshopping or image stitching glitches on this one. It’s a nice juicy mystery.

Satisfyingly, it’s one we’ve managed to solve. The shape you see isn’t an enormous cephalopod, with huge clawed tentacles, capable of taking down a warship. It’s a rock.

To be fair, as far as rocks go it’s one of the more interesting ones, it’s got a name and everything. Sail Rock. It’s volcanic and it’s 30 m high. Why the story took off and spread so quickly when a quick google provides a map and actual photos of what’s very clearly a rock, is perhaps the biggest mystery.

2. Blood Lake

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Drying_Lake_Urmia,_August_2013_-_%D8%AF%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%A7%DA%86%D9%87_%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%85%DB%8C%D9%87%D8%8C_%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF_%DB%B1%DB%B3%DB%B9%DB%B2_-_panoramio.jpg

One mystery that even armchair Googlers haven’t been able to solve is that of Lago Vermelho Lake or ‘Blood Lake’. The one in Baghdad, Iraq, not the 2006 horror porno or the 2014 horror film that I encourage you not to look up if you are normal and multiple layers of bloody teeth freak you out.

The actual lake made headlines in 2016 when NASA’s Aqua satellite captured images that showed it to have turned bright red. And I don’t mean ‘Oh I see what you mean, if you squint in the right light it looks a little reddish.’ I mean ‘Holy shit, that’s redder than the inside of the car in Pulp Fiction where Vincent Vega shot Marvin in the face.’

Blood was of course most people’s first thought leading many to suggest the horrifying hue was a result of nearby slaughterhouses draining into the lake. Other suggestions include industrial waste, dyes or products of water treatment. The most likely explanation is an algal bloom or growth of the blood-red Dunaliella seaweed. However, that doesn’t explain why both lakes on either side are a normal colour or why, as soon as the lake made headlines, it returned to a normal colour and hasn’t been red since.

This has led to many disappointed tourists who’ve travelled to the area specifically to take photos, hopefully, next to and not in the contaminated water. One disgruntled visitor simply reviewed it as ‘Not red.’ One star.

1 Antarctica

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Antarctica_Melts_Under_Its_Hottest_Days_on_Record.jpg

As the least explored continent on our Earth, it makes sense that Antarctica is home to the most mysterious satellite discoveries. Aside from the whole Kraken situation it’s got going on, there are also hundreds of claims of alien crash sites, secret military bases and mysterious intelligently designed objects and pyramids being revealed by the melting ice.

Satellite images of the Wilkes Land region have revealed a few anomalies that remain unanswered. The first to be spotted was a dark semi-circular shaped disc, emerging from the ice. It’s big, approximately 60 ft. across and has a very man-made look about it. Of course, being round, the first cries were of a crashed UFO, others suggested it’s the site of a secret military base or seed bunker. More creative individuals cite it as proof that our Earth is hollow and the disc is a hidden door to some kind of underworld. Whether it’s to keep us out or to keep the monsters in, is unclear.

Just a short skate across the ice takes you to the next mysterious satellite find, what looks like a large opening to a cave. Again theories range from alien lair to military bunker. Of course, it could just be the way the ice has melted but that wouldn’t be as exciting.

Beyond these little anomalies, which in fairness could turn out to be glitches or poorly stitched images, satellites have uncovered one more Antarctic mystery. In 2006, NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite uncovered a massive, 300-mile wide gravity anomaly. Indicating a huge object inside an even larger crater, 3 times the size of the Chicxulub crater which killed the dinosaurs.

 A team of researchers has determined this is most likely to have been caused by the impact of a colossal meteor. This theory lines up with the currently unexplained Permian-Triassic extinction event, which killed 96% of creatures in the sea and 70% of those on land. Of course, the words Nazi base, inner world and Alien threat have been thrown around too.

As it’s buried below the ice, we can’t see it and prove that if the ice melts hordes of aliens won’t come pouring out to devour us. So, until we improve our remote sensing technology, send a team to drill through fragile ice caps or burn enough oil to melt them, it’s a mystery that remains unsolved.

By Laura Davies

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Citations

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