Google Maps: Why is China Building These Bizarre Structures in Gobi Desert [Gallery]

New photos have appeared in Google Maps showing unidentified titanic structures in the barren Gobi desert, raising questions about what China might be building in a region it uses for its military, space and nuclear programmes.

  • Just to the west of that grid is something that looks like a target, with lines radiating out of the centre... Photo: Google MapsJust to the west of that grid is something that looks like a target, with lines radiating out of the centre... Photo: Google Maps
  • ..Have the lines been painted on the surface or have they been scraped out by bulldozers? Photo: Google Maps..Have the lines been painted on the surface or have they been scraped out by bulldozers? Photo: Google Maps
  • All of the sites are on the borders of Gansu province and Xinjiang, some less than 100 miles from Jiuquan, the headquarters of China’s space programme and the location of its launch pads. This Google Maps image shows what look like roads intersecting at crazy angles... Photo: Google MapsAll of the sites are on the borders of Gansu province and Xinjiang, some less than 100 miles from Jiuquan, the headquarters of China’s space programme and the location of its launch pads. This Google Maps image shows what look like roads intersecting at crazy angles... Photo: Google Maps
  • ...Zooming into this area reveals what look like destroyed vehicles. Photo: Google Maps...Zooming into this area reveals what look like destroyed vehicles. Photo: Google Maps
  • This Google Maps image shows a four-by-four grid of what look like square holes or metallic quares surrounded by debris... Photo: Google MapsThis Google Maps image shows a four-by-four grid of what look like square holes or metallic quares surrounded by debris... Photo: Google Maps
  • The strange structures are in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, a remote area near the Mongolian border, north of the Shule River, which crosses the Tibetan Plateau into the Kumtag Desert. Photo: Google MapsThe strange structures are in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, a remote area near the Mongolian border, north of the Shule River, which crosses the Tibetan Plateau into the Kumtag Desert. Photo: Google Maps
  • What is China building in a remote desert area? Vast, unidentified, structures have been spotted by satellites in the barren Gobi desert, raising questions about what China might be building in a region it uses for its military, space and nuclear programmes.      The first image looks like a random arrangement of lines. Could it be a targeting grid for satellites? Perhaps they're roads? Some conspiracy theorists have suggested this pattern matches the layout of streets in Washington, DC. Maybe it's just the world's biggest QR code?... Photo: Google MapsWhat is China building in a remote desert area? Vast, unidentified, structures have been spotted by satellites in the barren Gobi desert, raising questions about what China might be building in a region it uses for its military, space and nuclear programmes. The first image looks like a random arrangement of lines. Could it be a targeting grid for satellites? Perhaps they're roads? Some conspiracy theorists have suggested this pattern matches the layout of streets in Washington, DC. Maybe it's just the world's biggest QR code?... Photo: Google Maps

A Google Maps satellite has spotted a series of bizarre structures during a sweep of the Gobi desert in China. Are these mysterious structures in the Chinese desert part of a military experiment, a “giant targeting grid,” or the remnants of industrial-grade digging?

The internet is buzzing with theories about what their purpose is, with suggestions ranging from giant QR readers to practise targets for military satellites. To add to the intrigue, they are located on the borders of Gansu province and Xinjiang in northwestern China – an area that the superpower uses to build military, space and nuclear equipment.

In fact, some of the sites are less than 100 miles from Jiuquan, where China’s space programme headquarters and launch pads can be found. Some internet users have been trying to overlay one of the strange structures on to various U.S. city maps, worried that there may be a sinister military purpose behind them.

Others have pointed out that if China wanted to attack a U.S. city, it doesn’t need a practise map in the desert. What’s also fuelling the mystery is that it’s just too difficult to tell what the structures are made of – whether they are painted on or dug into the landscape.

However, upon zooming in, planes and burnt-out trucks can be seen on some of the photographs, which hints that they may indeed be targets of some kind. This is the second time in a number of days that the search giant has published photographs of possibly secret facilities.

Last week it published pictures of Iranian facilities which the UN says may be used to develop nuclear weapons. Satellite images of Arak and Natanz show changes to the facilities in the areas when compared with images taken in October 2010.

The overhead pictures were released by Google following a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which expressed ‘serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme’. [via Daily Mail (UK), Gizmodo and The Telegraph (UK)]

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