NASA Space Scientist says odd Chinese desert markings are for spy sat calibration

Nov 22, 2011
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NASA Space Scientist says odd Chinese desert markings are for spy sat calibration

Last week I talked about the weird markings that had turned up in the Chinese desert. As people noted the markings had been around for a while and were apparently only recently discovered by many people. We all wondered what China was up to out there in the desert and what the weird series of lines and such were actually for. If you thought they were something to calibrate spy satellites in space, you are right according to one scientist.

Space.com talked with Jonathon Hill from Arizona State University. Hill is a research tech and a mission planner at the Mars Space Flight Facility at ASU. This is the place where the cameras are operated on Mars missions. Hill says that the images with the white zigzag lines are spy satellite calibration targets. The satellite cameras would focus on the grids and could then correctly orient themselves in relation to the planet in space. He even cited a link to similar patterns in Arizona that the US used in the 60's for spy satellites.

As for the image of the concentric rings with the aircraft sitting near the center, Hill suspects that it was used to try to mask the aircraft from radar. He noted that it was "almost certainly" a calibration/test target for orbital radar devices. Hill thinks the Chinese might have been using the arrangement to try to make the radar signature of the aircraft smaller than it actually is in attempts to mask them. What do you think is this a viable answer to you?

[via Space.com]


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