Mystery of China's White Desert Lines Solved?

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A space researcher has offered what he believes is the correct solution to a mystery that’s been flying around cyberspace for the past week: A strange tangle of white lines in China’s Gobi desert discovered in Google Map images. Military pundits, armchair investigators, and conspiracy theorists have had a field day with the strange set of lines.

It’s a UFO landing strip!

It’s a mockup of the streets of Washington, D.C., constructed for nefarious military purposes!

It’s a top-secret military installation doing experiments in controlling the weather!

It’s a nuclear testing range!

It’s a hoax: the Google Map images themselves are fakes, and the lines are not actually there!

A previous Discovery News piece concluded that it probably had some military connection (such as target practice range, based in part on the fact that other similar sites in the area had airplanes sitting in them), and now a NASA scientist thinks he’s got it figured out.

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According to a story on Fox News the latest (and most plausible) theory is that “they are almost definitely used to calibrate China’s spy satellites. So says Jonathon Hill, a research technician and mission planner at the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University, which operates many of the cameras used during NASA’s Mars missions.”

The satellite calibration target solution seems as good an answer as any, and better than most. China, like many countries including the United States, is known to have spy satellites in orbit.

There’s been no official explanation from the Chinese government—which is not surprising, since China doesn’t need to “explain” some white lines in its desert to anyone, including NASA and President Obama. Of course even if Hu Jintao, the President of China, publicly offered a clear and complete explanation of the mysterious lines, conspiracy-minded folks wouldn’t believe him anyway.

Photo Credit: Google Maps

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