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China Earth The Military Technology

China Building Gigantic Structures In the Desert 412

Posted by timothy
from the what's-your-best-guess? dept.
vbraga writes "New photos have appeared in Google Maps showing unidentified titanic structures in the middle of the Chinese desert. The first one is an intricate network of what appears to be huge metallic stripes. It's located in Dunhuang, Jiuquan, Gansu, north of the Shule River, which crosses the Tibetan Plateau to the west into the Kumtag Desert. It covers an area approximately one mile long by more than 3,000 feet wide. The tracks are perfectly executed, and they seem to be designed to be seen from orbit."
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China Building Gigantic Structures In the Desert

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  • Possible use... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:05PM (#38053696)
    Looks a lot like those fractal-based antennas they put in the back of cell phones, only a lot bigger. Made out of metal too, I assume?
    • They're contacting aliens?
      • with apologizes to the Dead Milkmen

      • by flyingsquid (813711) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @12:55AM (#38056110)
        All I can say is, I read this post and thought, "Weird structures, visible from outer space, built out in the desert... man, this sounds like the first five minutes of a blockbuster Hollywood sci-fi movie..." and unlike most of the stuff coming out of Hollywood these days, I *totally* want to see how this ends. I figure this movie has it all. A mysterious, civilization-threatening menace. Huge battle scenes with entire cities being obliterated. Robots, or aliens, or gods, or Chinese, or maybe Chinese alien robot gods. A scientist desperately working to unravel the mystery and decode the text. At least one smoking hot chick who runs around looking helpless in very tight clothing, implausibly cast as some sort of researcher. And finally, an elite group of U.S. soldiers, written off as a bunch of misfits by the Pentagon, who are now personally called upon by the President in our time of greatest need, to save the nation... and the world.
    • Re:Possible use... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:10PM (#38053738) Homepage

      Doesn't look like metal - you can see vehicle tracks and small bits of hills / dirt piles in the middle. What's really interesting is the lack of 'infrastructure' around it. I don't even see an obvious road in to the area. No buildings on a cursory scan. A few round crater-like areas.

      I think it just spells "Welcome Alien Overlords" in Mandarin or something.

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:13PM (#38053778) Homepage

        OTOH, give me a couple hits of blotter acid and a Caterpillar D-8 and I think I'd end up with something similar.

      • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:28PM (#38053956) Homepage Journal

        Doesn't look like metal - you can see vehicle tracks and small bits of hills / dirt piles in the middle. What's really interesting is the lack of 'infrastructure' around it. I don't even see an obvious road in to the area. No buildings on a cursory scan. A few round crater-like areas.

        I think it just spells "Welcome Alien Overlords" in Mandarin or something.

        More like: "We welcome visitors from the heavens to trade with tie our currency to yours in a fixed exchange rate. Do not attempt to communicate directly with our populace or we will be forced to construct great space firewall."

      • Re:Possible use... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by maccallr (240314) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:29PM (#38053966) Homepage Journal

        This one (the first image in the Wired article) seems to be exactly the same dimensions as the image tiles - zoom out until you see different "vintage" images and you'll see what I mean. Could just be an artifact. The others look real though.

        This is a nice tool for viewing the cross section (altitude) of an arbitrary path drawn on a google map:
        http://www.geocontext.org/publ/2010/04/profiler/en/ [geocontext.org]

        • Nah the first one is real. It appears to be some sort of cover on the ground. If you look at it closely you will see that there is sediment deposited on top of the white material in a manner that suggests flowing water. As you can see older flow patterns get interrupted, I'm assuming that this is some sort of plastic sheet (though the fact that it's 50m wide does intrigue me on how it would be deployed).
        • That's more likely the slice of images taken from the satellite's path. I suspect the satellite imaged that region when the channels/roads/whatever had a layer of water on top and were reflecting the sunlight. If you look at the adjoining tiles, there's still a channel structure, it's just not reflective.

          -Chris

        • by TheCarp (96830)

          I saw the same thing, and I agree. I think people are reading way too much into a couple of these. They look a lot more like artifacts of image processing than legitimate constructions. The main tip off, on the first one, is the way the white lines end in a line... you mean to tell me that some engineer designed a structure or some work site evolved... along the tracks of some river bed or some such (hard to tell)... down multiple different tracks, in such a way as to be perfectly enclosed in a rectangle?

          No

        • Re:Possible use... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jandersen (462034) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:29AM (#38056782)

          I think they look like something that has been photoshopped into the pictures. You can see the structure of the surface under them - if they had been real, the ground would have been leveled, or they would not have looked so perfectly straight when seen from a slight angle as in the pictures.

          Perhaps they are some of the little flaws that mapmakers put into their maps and photos as a sort of "watermark" so they can prove in court that you have made an illegal copy?

      • Re:Possible use... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ackthpt (218170) on Monday November 14, 2011 @08:03PM (#38054322) Homepage Journal

        Doesn't look like metal - you can see vehicle tracks and small bits of hills / dirt piles in the middle. What's really interesting is the lack of 'infrastructure' around it. I don't even see an obvious road in to the area. No buildings on a cursory scan. A few round crater-like areas.

        I think it just spells "Welcome Alien Overlords" in Mandarin or something.

        Looks like paint. There's a lot of uneven ground in there, which they haven't appeared to even fill.

      • by flyingsquid (813711) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @01:01AM (#38056154)
        "Hey, President Hu, is it really true that the Americans owe us so much money that if you took all the U.S. Treasury bonds we hold and spread them out, you could actually see it from space?"

        "I dunno. Let's find out!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Fractal antennas are implemented in cell phones because they can be used to receive multiple frequencies with one antenna, but no radio wavelength would require an antenna that big. Good observation though.

      • The ELF frequencies we use to talk to submerged subs can have wavelengths much much longer than these objects. Broadband ELF antenna was my first thought, but it seems like it would be buried.
        • Re:Possible use... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday November 14, 2011 @10:02PM (#38055158)
          It could be for submarines that operate at shallower depths, and so they can use higher frequencies. Perhaps the antenna is buried, and what we are seeing is the disturbance on the surface?

          More likely, though, is that these patterns are being used to calibrate satellites. A nice, easy to spot image in the middle of a sparsely populated desert? I would not be surprised if the US also had a few of these things lying around.
      • Fractal antennas are implemented in cell phones because they can be used to receive multiple frequencies with one antenna, but no radio wavelength would require an antenna that big.

        3khz radio waves have wavelengths as long as 100 kilometers. So yes, radio waves exist that would require an antenna that big. (Though anything over 1km is blocked by the atmosphere.)

    • That doesnt look at all like a fractal, however, which doesnt really help with that suggestion.

  • by mveloso (325617) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:11PM (#38053758)

    Who would have thought aliens had QR code technology?

    • by myrdos2 (989497)
      There are places where the placement of the lines seems to be a result of the terrain, and places where it ignores the terrain. Seems unlikely to be a visible pattern - I'd expect the lines to always ignore the terrain in that case.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by firewrought (36952)

      Who would have thought aliens had QR code technology?

      Oh hilarious... you've figured out that it's safe to lift one-liners from the first page of the article because nobody on slashdot is going to read that far!

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:11PM (#38053762)

    Some to do with mountain cuts / water damning?

  • Whatever it is it was built with really cheap labor.
  • by guanxi (216397) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:14PM (#38053796)

    I recall people finding all sorts of artifacts on Google Maps when it first came out, such as pieces of tape. Perhaps that explains some of the perfectly geometrical shapes that don't adhere to the terrain?

    • Re:Pieces of tape? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@[ ]mythe.com ['jws' in gap]> on Monday November 14, 2011 @09:21PM (#38054892) Homepage Journal

          Some of the features are overlaid by terrain. They're real. A friend sent me another link that included these and several more. Sorry, I don't have it to share.

          One of the features on the other link was an airport. The runway and taxiway were bordered by the same white lines. They also had another airport right beside (but aligned differently) was newer. There were no actual paved runways, just the white lines representing where it should be.

          The lines would be easily put down by a spray truck.

          If you zoom in with Google Maps on the first image, you can see where dirt has washed across the lines to some degree in places. You'll also see the paint washed away from the lines.

          There are plenty of vehicle tracks around the lines.

          All in all, it looks like some economical setups for military exercises. It's a lot cheaper to set up a tent city with painted lines representing roads and runways, than to build a a practice city.

          Some of the buildings look like they were blown up. Air strikes, or done by ground troops, who knows. Either one is a possibility.

          For the most part, they look like they haven't been used in a while. And singe Google Maps images are delayed by years, we're looking at old training areas, that were old 5 years ago.

  • Well, the third one looks a lot like a city grid. In fact, it looks exactly like the roadmaps in Google Maps of a well-organized downtown, might be some connection there. The "targeting bullseye" might well be just that (calibration for high-altitude photography, seems like the likeliest, especially with the planes in the middle.) The first one is just weird.

    Make-work actually seems quite possible for the rest. Certainly wouldn't be a first for China. Anything that keeps their economy expanding they will f

    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:44PM (#38054136) Homepage Journal

      Well, the third one looks a lot like a city grid. In fact, it looks exactly like the roadmaps in Google Maps of a well-organized downtown, might be some connection there. The "targeting bullseye" might well be just that (calibration for high-altitude photography, seems like the likeliest, especially with the planes in the middle.) The first one is just weird.

      Make-work actually seems quite possible for the rest. Certainly wouldn't be a first for China. Anything that keeps their economy expanding they will fund, so it seems far more likely than some sort of super-weapon.

      The more I looked at it the more I figured it to be a mock-up of some roads. Someone pointed out a few of the outlines to the west look like aircraft cariers. I suspect if you can find where in the world these lines fit roads (my guess is in the vicinity of some nation's capitol city) you'll have an answer - target practice.

  • by cobrausn (1915176) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:18PM (#38053834)
    Some folks on hackernews have suggested it could be a massive salt or mineral collection operation. Not sure myself, but here is the comparison shots.

    One in Israel [g.co]

    California [g.co]
    • Not sure... but wouldn't it require not being in the desert for there to be water to evapourate to form the lines?

      It wouldn't make much sense for them to pipe seawater into the middle of the Gobi to evapourate for the salt, when they could simply desalinate closer to the coast....

      • by Guppy (12314) on Monday November 14, 2011 @08:13PM (#38054406)

        Not sure... but wouldn't it require not being in the desert for there to be water to evapourate to form the lines?

        Not necessarily. Chinese have been producing salt from underground brine deposits for millenia. They even invented the Percussive Drilling Rig for this purpose, reaching depths that the rest of the world would not match until modern times.

  • by Threni (635302) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:19PM (#38053842)

    What would they look like if they weren't designed to be seen from orbit?

    • by pla (258480) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:38PM (#38054080) Journal
      What would they look like if they weren't designed to be seen from orbit?

      Then they wouldn't look so amazingly straight from orbit. Those structures occupy some pretty treacherous hilly terrain, yet look perfectly straight from above.

      Built from the perspective of some unknown ground-use, not only would they tend to work with natural contours rather than stubbornly going in straight lines over hills and chasms, they quite likely wouldn't even look straight.
      • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@nosPam.gmail.com> on Monday November 14, 2011 @10:11PM (#38055214) Homepage

        Built from the perspective of some unknown ground-use, not only would they tend to work with natural contours rather than stubbornly going in straight lines over hills and chasms, they quite likely wouldn't even look straight.

        That's an assumption, even though you're [mistakenly] treating it as a fact. Whether they follow the natural contours would depend on what that use is - and that they didn't is prima facie evidence that the intended use requires straight lines. (Basic rule of photo intelligence, work forward from what you can see. Not backwards from what you assume.)

  • by nirgle (554262) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:21PM (#38053862) Homepage
    I'd like to know what technology they're using to get such fine etchings of the google copyright image in the sand. I'm very impressed.
  • from the 5th century BC to the 16th century AD

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Wall_of_China [wikipedia.org]

    it's being built to keep out marauding mongols, duh

  • by DragonHawk (21256) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:29PM (#38053972) Homepage Journal

    Look for a correlation with massive avian die-offs.

    And if you see Dominic Monaghan, run.

  • It's perfectly clear that China is trying to attract the UFO's from the Plain of Nazga to their own country landing site. What else could it possibly be?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:32PM (#38054024)

    Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified.

    These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.

    Source: http://berkeley.intel-research.net/arahimi/helmet/

  • Obfuscation.

  • by flyboy974 (624054) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:40PM (#38054096)
    Other fun stuff in the area (just paste the Coords into Google Maps)

    More "QR Codes": 40.458638,93.390827
    Bunkers near the wierd lines: 40.46294,93.372341
    fake runways/bases: 40.472416,93.5079
    Bomb (cluster?) hits on that base: 40.489307,93.500476
    Fake houses/city that have been hit; 40.413766,93.583812
    Some form of ULF or other low frequency communication array? 40.413766,93.583812
    Some odd town: 40.108521,93.993434
    Chemical or other plant that is using A LOT of water in the middle of the desert: 40.108521,93.993434

    • by flyboy974 (624054)

      BTW, the item where I said it was using A LOT of water. Doesn't look like water after looking more. And it's growing. If you zoom in the north end has expanded.

      Right now it's measuring in at 72sq MILES of land use (12 miles long x 6 miles wide). That thing is HUGE whatever it is.

      Even has a corporate headquarters type buildings ( 40.468196,90.860839 ), large cooling towers that are 125ft wide (40.462246,90.859235), truck depot (40.478358,90.877597).

  • ... the Chinese know where all our spy satellites will be looking [wikipedia.org].

  • Maybe they are developing some kind of orbital kinetic bombardment weapon? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Thor#Project_Thor [wikipedia.org]
  • There are a couple pics in TFA. It appears that there are various multi-mile area targets. HAARP sized comes to mind. I mean.. if you could get that accurate, you would have the next perfect weapon.
  • by TwineLogic (1679802) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:45PM (#38054142)
    The symmetric circular image looks like an optical illusion. Is China using a device which projects false images into over-passing satellites?
    The picture might not reflect reality on the ground. In particular, the image with what appears to be some kind of raster looks like it was taken during some kind of "interference."
  • I'm more interested in the huge (looking at the scale bar) series of what appear to be dams of water just to the west of the site.

  • I'm sure somebody's already suggested this somewhere, but didn't spot it in this comment thread - so any discussion regarding the historic imagery available through Google Earth (which shows some development progress of these 'structures'), here's a thread starter :)

    I didn't see anything too exciting, though. I do wonder why so many of the buildings (especially to the north, near the 'airstrips' are rather blue).. could be image processing, but.. blue? Odd.

  • just like the ones for the back of your cell phone only bigger so they can communicate with their soon to be launched space station. Zoom in and you'll see a guy sitting in a bamboo chair with a radio in the upper left corner of the sticker.

    LoB
  • It's what's left of the US economy.
  • by amanicdroid (1822516) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:58PM (#38054270)
    zjpennington's reddit thread [reddit.com]

    ..The Gobi area is rife with military activity. The Chinese frequently use it as a military training area. They use it to test new Radars/Weapons Systems/Aircraft etc... Sometimes it's nothing more than just lame artillery training and other times we've been able to catch them testing some pretty advanced weapons systems they've developed to counter our systems. This was the case when I was able to watch them over the course of a few days testing out their "Dragon Eye" system before they placed it on their Luyang II DDG's. Which is their equivalent of our "Aegis or Spy I" system on our DDG's..

    (At least one commenter has quoted this thread without proper attribution.)

  • by mike449 (238450) on Monday November 14, 2011 @08:00PM (#38054302)
  • This is defense against HAARP earthquake attacks.

  • Actual analysis (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 14, 2011 @08:16PM (#38054428)

    So we have four images of Weird Stuff. I'm pretty sure I can get at least some information on the nature of two of them, if not the purpose.

    First we have the Crazy Wide White Lines. If you look closely you see bits where the brown dirt intrudes on them, but it isn't clear whether the brown has been washed over them or the white has been washed away. However, here: http://tinyurl.com/6udmvce
      you clearly see new gullies being formed, and taking the white stuff with it. So the white isn't a solid material; it's some kind of powder or paint, or maybe sand? Probably paint, as it hasn't been blown around by the wind; all the edges are very sharp except where gullies have cut over them. As for purpose, I don't know. Calibrating an orbital imaging system is quite possible; the material looks VERY reflective, which is exactly what you want to test your camera.

    Then we have the Weird Grid Pattern, http://tinyurl.com/6s9vh7u . This is easy. Zoom in close. Reeeeal close. Oh look, it's tire tracks. This may be some kind of test for a new vehicle or navigation system, or just a prospecting operation or some other survey.

    Then we have the Brown Squares And Blowed Up Trucks, http://tinyurl.com/86tx2e5 . The trucks are pretty obviously blown up, or at least derelict and strewn about. Dunno what the brown squares are, but they're flat on the ground, not raised or recessed; no shadows. And there's this square grid of markers as well, and a white splash mark in the middle. So I have no idea what it IS, but it LOOKS somewhat like an artillery target or something.

    Then we have This Thing, http://tinyurl.com/ckxrbvr . And I'll say it, I'm stumped. It looks like three airplanes with Super Stonehenge around it. The airplanes have a wingspan of about 40 feet assuming the scale bar is correct, and each structure is something like 10-25 feet long and only a few wide. There's something like 8 taller towers scattered around the center, near the planes. The planes have long swept-back wings that certainly don't look like modern fighters or high-speed aircraft. A B-52 has a wingspan of 185 feet and an F-16 has a wingspan of 32 feet, so it's something closer to the smaller size scale. They all appear to be the same type of plane. Maybe China has decided to set up their own Burning Man?

    Also, oh hey, look at this: http://tinyurl.com/7vdaccb Remind you of anything, albeit older and more beat up? It's just a bit north-east of Super Stonehenge, and if you keep going north-east you find a couple airstrips and mostly-run-down-looking buildings. Interesting, no?

  • Those look to me like tracks left in the ground by unmanned vehicles. Straight lines, random-ish changes, slighty dusty.
  • by jd2112 (1535857) on Monday November 14, 2011 @09:50PM (#38055086)
    So you won't notice the giant boats they are building near Tibet to save all the rich people from the upcoming apocalypse.
  • Google Earth helps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Monday November 14, 2011 @10:12PM (#38055226)

    Lots more good information available via Google Earth than via Google Maps. In particular, check out "historical imagery".

    2003: Bare patch of desert
    April 14, 2005: Lines are being constructed
    May 30, 2005: Construction complete
    No change since then, most recent images Nov 2010.

    So while TFA says China is "building" these, really they built them 6 years ago. And they can't be "structures" either: there's no way a dozen trucks (see below) can construct 2 square km of anything substantial in two months.

    The "under construction" image in April 2005 is most interesting. There's a depot on the west side with a dozen or so trucks, and what looks like a stockpile of messy white powder. If you look at the leading edges of the lines under construction, you can see what looks like dumped piles of white powder, and in some places white stuff has washed into a gully and been carried downstream.

    One poster here [slashdot.org] said that "Those structures occupy some pretty treacherous hilly terrain, yet look perfectly straight from above", so it must be meant to be viewed from orbit. This is not the case: the land is a flat desert plain, with bumps a few meters high, sloping gradually 50 m downhill over 2 km.

    My interpretation: bombing target, made of lime or some other white powder, spread over the ground to make complicated road patterns. Designed for practicing aerial bombing or artillery in an urban street map.

  • by tombeard (126886) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:49AM (#38056624)

    What i would do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @05:29AM (#38057382)

    Hello,
    I'm sure this will never be seen due to me being AC, but I've taken a look at a few of the target sites. I'll break them down with the coordinate groups helpfully provided above. tl;dr: The only ones that actually confuse me are the 'QR Codes', but I will still posit that they are pseudo-random 'road and runway' test targets designed to evaluate munition effectiveness in a given radius.

    40.413766,93.583812
    Bombing range for something that requires electro-optical (EO) or IR signature, or for testing something like submunition effectiveness on a given area with multiple types of targets. Presence of derelict vehicles, etc, as well as regularly spaced crush disk or pressure sensors (the small domey nubs dotted in a grid) seem to indicate this. The concrete pads could either be a testing pattern to be entered into a EO/IR sensor, or a simple visual aid for bombardiers. Think of how a tomahawk compares a downward image of its target to its onboard sensor to determine its presence over the target area. So either the boxes serve to show how effective a munition is on vehicles AND concrete, or it's a target signature of some sort.

    40.472416,93.5079
    As the other poster stated, runway and airfield test mockup. Bear in mind when looking at these images that most of them are going to be false-color, that is to say that the signatures are not always how they appear first-hand. The runway probably isn't made of tinfoil and those buildings are not coated in prussian blue, it's just how the sensor and coloring system depict the objects. he also correctly identified the runway-denial submunition impacts at the mock parking apron at the end of the runway.

    40.108521,93.993434
    Looks like a small farming village. Pretty consistent with plantings (they deploy grids of little tents over their rows of crops at times of the year) and normal farming life.

    The QR codes are tough to say. There's a number of applications for unique and conspicuous patterns that are visible from air/space...
    -Airborne sensor calibration (aircraft)
    -Cruise missile guidance testing and development
    -Bomb EO and IR sensor development and testing
    -Space-based sensor geo-rectification (ie, I know to look here every day to verify my camera systems' look angle, elevation, etc) This is supported by their apparent accuracy relative to the sky rather than the earth.

    The other things in TFA are also pretty consistent with bomb targets, especially the radial targets with varying sized panels. Typically these panels are arranged at varying vertical heights at varying distances from the center to analyze the blast fragmentation effects.

    Theres spooky applications for the QR codes only if you look too far into them. I doubt they're any sort of antenna grid just because an antenna that large would require much more infrastructure around to power it, etc.

  • by ryanisflyboy (202507) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @06:29AM (#38057700) Homepage Journal

    Here in Utah, where the government seems to own most of the state, we have our own share of odd structures. Like these on the Dugway Proving Grounds:

    http://g.co/maps/9uz4u [g.co]
    http://g.co/maps/yyyfk [g.co]
    http://g.co/maps/zs7c3 [g.co]
    http://g.co/maps/vh7mf [g.co]
    http://g.co/maps/q2zg5 [g.co]

    There are a gazillion odd things on the landscape of Earth. It seems most of them are either built by scientists, the military, or both.

    My personal guess for the China structures is that it is something really boring. Like a geological study using satellites. Some of the structures do seem to be military/bombing related. However, I have to wonder if the squiggly line structures are related to a satellite based geological study. If you look close, it rather seems like some of the lines have been "moved" or are folded on itself by some natural process. Doesn't that seem like a lot of disruption in the soil for being less than a decade old? If I were a geologist, that might be just the kind of area I might want to research. Doubly so if I was trying to protect the many important archaeological artifacts found in that area of China. I might even try some anti-erosion studies, etc. Even more meaningful would be understanding how important those archaeological sites are to the economy. If they wash away, will tourists still pay to see a small mound of dirt?

    Yeah, I know it isn't as exciting as space aliens... which I would much prefer to be true. ;-)

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