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back to article Mysterious sat-pic China desert markings - EXPLAINED

The grids of white lines in China's Gobi desert that have got the world's conspiracy theorists in a lather for a week, are actually calibration targets used to help China's spy satellites, says a NASA researcher. Since the 65ft-wide white line patterns were spotted on Google Earth, it has been speculated that they were anything …

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Anonymous Coward

Could Also Be

... a testing site for the optical targeting sensor of a missile.

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Dumbest thing I've heard all day

Granted, the day is young, but still -- the only way what you've said could even possibly make sense is if you were talking about an ICBM, and the idea of optical targeting on an ICBM-delivered warhead is risible to say the least.

Next time you're moved to comment, distract yourself with another bong hit or two instead. We'll all thank you for it.

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Mushroom

yeah ok, optical targeting *ALONE* on ICBMS might be a bit silly...

no need to be a dick about it though.

just saiyan.

secondly, it's china. you think they'd really mind if their ICBMs weren't completely on target?

when they inevitably take over the world all they have to do is *miss* china

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*ALONE* qualifier unnecessary

Do a little reading. 'Fast' doesn't begin to describe the terminal profile of an ICBM-launched warhead, which is unguided -- hence "ballistic" -- anyway; even if someone were mad enough to build fins and optics into one, which they wouldn't because it'd be a waste of mass better used for payload or RV structure, it wouldn't have time to maneuver before fusing.

As for the rest, it is every sensible person's responsibility to shame arrant ignorance out of blithely opening its uninformed mouth in public.

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Anonymous Coward

As for the rest

No, you're just a dick.

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Boffin

Ballistic Warhead Targeting

Tricks could be done shifting the aerodynamic response of a fast-moving shell by shifting around the center of mass, for instance - no fins needed (or wanted at that speed). In fact, terminal evasiveness is supposed to be a characteristic of warheads from the superpowers nowadays.

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Terminal Guidance Not Impossible

Apparently the Indians can do it to.

from https://www.fas.org/irp/threat/missile/rumsfeld/pt2_tanks.htm

Agni. The 2500-kilometer Agni technology demonstrator uses the SLV-3

booster for its first stage and a liquid-fueled Prithvi for its second

stage. Three test shots were conducted before the U.S. successfully

pressured India into suspending testing (1994). Of particular

interest, the Agni tests demonstrated that India can develop a

maneuvering warhead that incorporates endo-atmospheric evasive

maneuvers and terminal guidance in the reentry vehicle.

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Bronze badge
Mushroom

errm... Aaron, m'lad, you don't seem to have heard of 'maneuverable re-entry vehicles'. Look 'em up, Google is your friend. There _are_ RVs which can, and do, modify their flight path from a purely ballistic path, and apparently at least one such type of RV uses an optical system, not for targeting guidance, but to help evade possible intercepting missiles. (Google is your friend with that one, too.) Note that you are the only one who mentioned 'fins', which almost certainly wouldn't work at RV velocities. Methods which would work include gyroscopes and reaction control thruster packages. (Yes, really.) (Google is your friend there, too.)

I leave as an exercise for the student the matter of exactly who should take a hit off his bong before ever again blithely opening its uninformed mouth in public.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

No.

It's every sensible person's responsibility to point out that something is wrong. Not be a dick or take the piss.

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Thumb Up

out of curiosity

are any other nations grids visable. USA's will probably be buried at white sands or nevada witha blackout against google but what about uk, france etc?

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Thumb Up

England has a big white horse.

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Anonymous Coward

we just use someone else's.

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Devil

Optical Targets

This may sound a bit daft but why should the US make a special target site just use Manhatten Island most of the streets are in a gridand as for the UK Milton Keynes all those roundabouts must be good for something?

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Bronze badge

Has it occurred to you that nations allied with each other probably share such things?

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Bronze badge

Does what now?

"satellite calibration patterns" on US military bases in the UK which are visible on Google Earth. According to the US mil they are actually motorcycle training areas but that sounds far too reasonable... so let's not let the "truth" get in the way! :)

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Silver badge

Nah, the US calibrates by looking at car's license plates.

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Anonymous Coward

ah the secret is out about

Hampton Court Maze, psst You didn't hear it from me.

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Joke

There's a lovely diamond shaped object with a slice taken out of the top of it that the UK uses to calibrate their spy sats just off the South coast.

The notch in the top is used to calibrate direction.

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Silver badge

Bah!

I've always assumed that Harlow New Town was designed as some sort of nuclear test site. Big sign on the outskirts announcing it as a "Nuclear Free Zone", yet begging for some sort of large, very hot event to remove it from the memory of mankind forever. Has to be irony from on high.

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RE: out of curiosity

I read a post on Google Sightseeing a while back about Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan having "HAMAD" in large letters using canals -- apparently a guy in the US called Luecke went even bigger and NASA use his tree-graffiti for satellite calibration.

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Trollface

New word of the day: "Lanoitpo"

The US calibrates during their bombing of overseas targets. Two birds one rocket...

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Anonymous Coward

Go on then...

Someone please explain why the weirdy pattern?

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Boffin

Why the weirdy pattern.

Because a regular pattern would be 100% useless for orientation purposes. To fully orient a camera in 3 dimensions from a two-dimensional image, you need an image that appears unique however it is rotated in any of those three dimensions, If there are any two rotations that create the same (or roughly similar depending on the effective resolution) two-dimensional image, then the camera can't be sure how it's oriented.

It's also important that the image be unique in comparison to other subjects of the camera, so that, for example, a satellite camera doesn't mistakenly try to orient itself to the ridge patterns of a mountain range or the street patterns of a major city.

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low res

If its a low res image then its quite possibly easier to find its direction/rotation by the use of crazy angles that make it look unique.

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Chronic unemployment not without consolation

After all, you can sit home all day doing bong hits and babbling conspiracy-theory nonsense about something some red-eyed twat found on Google Earth when he had nothing better in mind to do at three in the morning last Wednesday.

Speaking as somebody who's been working his very testicles off for the last month without a break, I have to say the thought comes with a certain appeal, even if I would chop my own balls off with a cleaver in public before I'd sink so low as to haunt conspiracy theory forums.

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Silver badge

Bah!

It took you a whole month to paint those lines in the Gobi Desert? Just so the Chinese could test their missiles?

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Stop

Clearly . . .

"Speaking as somebody who's been working his very testicles off for the last month without a break"

. . . you've gone mad from overwork, because nothing you posted actually makes the least amount of goddamn sense.

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I'd say chop'm...

...is quicker then working them off. Besides a dick like you doesn't need balls.

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Silver badge

Spy satellites

You should also add Israel, Japan and Russia to the list of countries operating spy satellites.

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Very straight edges..

The thing that struck me when I first saw this a few days ago was how straight the edges were. It looks more like an overlay, some of the ground they are over is pretty rough so top marks to their painters!

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Black Helicopters

They just want you to think they are calibration patterns!

where's my tinfoil hat!!

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@out of curiosity

Yes the UK uses a circular target with lines about the thickness of a road. For secrecy these are combined with the normal road network - the use of 1000s of them suggest a massive fleet of UK spy satelites.

however the Hanger Lane gyratory is still believed to be a message to aliens

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Go

...and the M25

is purportedly the Dread Sigil Odegra...

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Bronze badge

I think you'll find that Good Omens is humourous fiction.

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Anonymous Coward

where's

the little girl and the clown?

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Mushroom

Or...

Seeing as how there are also a number of interesting painted "airport shapes" nearby, and some large squares that appear to be covered in craters, could this be to do with developing a system that can target bombs or shells based on visual cues rather than GPS? The crazy-paving patterns could be the start of getting a system to be able to track location based on city streets.

https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?ll=40.491071,93.468995&spn=0.001611,0.003484&t=h&z=19&vpsrc=6

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Bronze badge

Or not craters

The painter went around small rocks that were too big to pick up and sloppily covered the tops of larger rocks that could be walked on.

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Black Helicopters

If china have their own spy sattellites...

I'm surprised they haven't leaked photos of all the sensitive areas blocked out by Google earth

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Bronze badge

What would they gain from doing that? They already have images of those areas and I'm sure they will have shared them with their allies. Why would they care if anybody else saw them or not?

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UK spy sats

Really, thought we borrowed time from the yanks, after the Z****** affair?

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Alien

Best guess: A straight grid would confirm the focus but give you a 1 in 4 chance of having the correct orientation. Some straight lines with the odd intersecting lines create a distinct shape/pattern that only looks "right" if you are calibrated correctly and at the right angle..

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They've been practicing bombing airfields too

The whole area 14Km ENE (east north east) 40.490N 93.468E is fully of bomb craters and missile grazes. Looks like they had a whole load of whoosh bang blow things up fun there.

If I was to guess you got a bombing range with areas of ground marked out to simulate airfields and towns.

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Bronze badge

And that would be unusual why? Most militarized countries have bombing ranges and firing ranges and the like.

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Joke

QR Code For ET

It is abviously a QR Code for ET to be able to pull up a wiki on their current interstaller location using an app on their etPhone

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Alien

Earth (planet): mostly harmless

[citation needed]

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Stop

Calibrations targets??? Utter BUNK. Orient satellite? Hahahahahahahah. Ever heard of star sensors? Paint? If you check it out with Google Earth and drop back to 2005 historical imaging the "paint" is stored in a large pile near some buildings. If you followed the link to the LLM site Mr Hill also gives another "example" of a "satellite calibration target" located in Arizona. It's a Maltese cross near what is now a trap shooting range that appears to have a long disused helicopter runway. Yes, many helicopters use runways for safety reasons. The Maltese cross is a standard FAA symbol for a holding point for helicopters landing. If the runway is occupied they are directed to the cross to wait until the runway is clear.

It is clear that Mr. Hill either doesn't want to say what it is or just doesn't know and doesn't want to appear ignorant. I strongly suspect the latter.

I have no idea what it is but I do know what it isn't. It most certainly doesn't have anything to do with "calibrating" satellites. They don't require "calibration". Orientation is done by other means and has nothing to do with something on the ground passing by at 5 miles per second every 32nd orbit.

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Star Sensors

A star pattern would look the same to a satellite tilted at the same angles 100 miles away - after all, the stars are VERY far away. The point of these satellites is to look down, thus the calibration on the ground makes sense.

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Not so good at geometry eh? Three sensors looking in X, Y and Z give an absolute attitude fix. The rest is just mathematics. A ground target is useless since it isn't visible most of the time. A spy satellite needs to know where it is pointed ALL of the time.

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Boffin

Ground Target not Useless

<A ground target is useless since it isn't visible most of the time.>

math illiterate yourself.

The star field is a 2-D map. One might thus figure out angles with respect to the ecliptic plane, but the field would look the same translated *very far* in Z perpendicular to the plane, since the stars are so far out.

A calibration only has to be done when doable, as for most instruments. Error accumulates due to the the limited precision of the calibration, over time, as one calculates positions using dynamics and the result of the last calibration.

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