Satellite Map Oddity

I got an email from Mike Scofield asking about this odd thing that can be seen via Google's satellite map out in the middle of the desert around Nevada. Mike writes:

Assuming I did the link right, you should see a giant triangle with concentric circles in it. I did some poking around and it looks like this symbol is ~near~ Area 51. This leads me to think it's one of two different hoaxes. One is that it's a very good photoshop someone slipped into the satalite map that Google is referencing or, two, that it is a symbol out there in the desert someone did that isn't related to Area 51.

Honestly, I don't know what this is. I'm guessing it's some kind of military base. If you zoom in you can see that it hasn't been photoshopped in (at least, it doesn't appear to me as if it's been photoshopped). The triangle and concentric circles appear to be roads.

Photos Places

Posted on Tue May 10, 2005


My guess would be a copyright protection trap laid by Google.

Although it does look like the roads in the lower left in color and width, those roads bend as they go over ridges and valleys, while the lines of triangle-and-circles do not, although the t&c lines do have color changes, when they go over the ridges, like the roads do. But they're arrow-straight on the monitor -- I held the side of a piece of paper up to my screen to check.

One *could* make a road which looks straight from the air, despite going over ridges, but it would result in some odd kinks and jinks in the actual road. I'll be interested to hear more on this.
Posted by cvirtue  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  09:10 AM
Check this out, its a topo map of the same area, with the words "inactive target" listed.
Posted by Maurice  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  09:23 AM
Isn't it obvious? It's a landing strip for aliens. They have one just like it down in Peru.
Posted by Captain Al  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  09:26 AM
Don't forget that They used to do nuclear testing somewhere out here. So maybe this is a gridline layout of ground-zero effects? Maybe someone can measure the distances between the circles and compare it to an atomic blast?
Posted by I don't want to believe  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  09:41 AM
aliens are coming!!! arhHHhhHhh... :gulp: *blink* :gulp: *blink* :gulp: *blink* :glup: arhHHHhhHHHhAAAaa...
Posted by ]-[orny  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  10:19 AM
Cvirtue is correct in that the roads could be laid out so that they appear straight in spite of the terrain - however, that would only work if viewed from one particular direction (coincidentally the direction that the satellite happens to be looking). And why would anyone want to lay out roads with such an odd property?

These markings almost certainly are not on the ground and have been added to the piccy. BTW how did Mike Scofield come across the markings?
Posted by Lord Lucan  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  10:27 AM
That is the area in which you go underground. It is ringed like that because of perimitors, or however you spell that. Thats what it is. It was made before Satalites were in the skies.
Posted by X  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  10:27 AM
One of the few fun parts of flying east from California is to look out the window at all the strange things in the dessert. Perfectly straight roads going god knows where for god knows what. Tracks in the desert will last hundreds of years due to the fragile soil. No doubt a lot of the strange things are various bombing targets and what not from the various military bases. Thanks for the picture.
Posted by Peter  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  11:06 AM
I think that it's a target for Air Force bombing training flights. There's a big air force base north of Vegas and every time I drive by there I see a jets flying really low over the mountains. A couple years ago two Russian built MI-24 Hind gunship helicopters flew right over my car near there on my way to Death Valley. I was wondering what Russian helicopters were doing there, I still am.

Plus, if you look carefully you can see pock-mark craters from bombs inside and near the design.
Posted by Brian  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  11:31 AM
the triangle isn't equalateral so the inner shapes are oblong rather than circular.

this would suggest that the picture was taken from a southerly direction, which (i would expect) would cause the straight lines of the triangle to appear to be more distorted due to the terrain. since the lines aren't distorted, it suggests the picture is taken from directly above, which begs the question, if it is a gridline layout to measure explosive effects, why oblongs instead of perfect circles?

of course thats assuming the picture isnt digitally manipulated for copyrighting or 'other' purposes. government conspiracy? (i say in jest)

fascinating anyway.
Posted by David  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  11:43 AM
I can't see it. I can see the img attached to the post, but not the link. The link comes up googlemaps...but blank. Was that supposed to be the original image?
Posted by Maegan  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  11:44 AM
Err wait, that didn't work. can we post links here? click
Posted by Kat  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  12:18 PM
You drop your dud bomb, then you drive out to the site and see how closely you hit. Then you take what's left back to the shop and try different fins on the bomb casing to see about improving the design.

The rings don't merely tell you how accurate you were, they're roads so you can recover your dud, and the triangle makes it unmistakable, even for a rookie pilot. The triangle is a road, too, in case you miss the target by that far. The terrain is flat so that finding your bomb casing won't be too difficult, even if it's buried itself in the sand. Weather conditions are good for practise year-round. And there's nobody around to complain about bombing runs.

But it probably hasn't been used for training bomber crews for decades, at least since modern targeting technology became available. Someone who built bomb casings or trained there might remember that target even today, if you can find him or her.
Posted by Bomber man  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  12:37 PM
Bomber Man, it's an interesting thing that you've posted, but I don't think it applies to this particular picture. The thing is laid across hills, not flat, and the lower left triangle corner goes across what's fairly clearly a deep stream valley. (The actual presence of water is probably seasonal.)

Kat, I've seen things like that one when flying over the desert in commercial flights, too. That one is much more obviously an installation of some kind.
Posted by cvirtue  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  01:12 PM
so. . . You puts the lines there on the ground or else your dud bombs don't gets found?

I like that explanation excpet it doesn't explain the backwards letter "E" at the top point of the triangle.

Maybe this is really an alien eye chart used for testing their space pilots before they issue flying licenses (point your tentacle in the direction you think the symbol is going).
Posted by RonT  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  01:43 PM
If the triangle is really there, other flyovers should show it.

I had a little spare time, so I tried to find the same area via the satellite images at terraserver. I didn't find any triangles, but that may only mean that I didn't find the right location. Somone with more time, or more familiarity with satellite images, may well succeed.
Posted by cvirtue  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  02:31 PM
This, and several other anomalies in the desert, have been confirmed by fan websites to be bombing targets. Here's another weird one; a compass:,-117.871714&spn=0.019870,0.030770&t=k&hl=en
Posted by Nick  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  02:57 PM
Sorry, you have to switch to satellite view and zoom in a lot to see it.
Posted by Nick  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  02:58 PM,-116.228828&spn=0.013947,0.021157&t=k&hl=en

I was dragging the mouse around and lost the triangle. I looked for it again and I ran into that nearby. (Assuming I linked right as well) If you zoom in, you can see concentric circles. No triangle this time though. Guess it's not an isolated incident?

(For some reason you might have to change it to "sattelite" map, but just hit the zooms and it should still be centered in the right place)
Posted by Ajin  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  03:07 PM
Nick seems to mean this url, which shows a lovely compass near EDW Edwards Air Force Base, USA. You can see the runways nearby.

Here's the real URL, but the outgoing link is munged by museumofhoaxes, so it may not work properly if you click on it.,-117.873302&spn=0.018239,0.023603&t=k&hl=en
Posted by Nick's Pal  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  03:32 PM
I'm surprised that no one yet has mentioned the other possibility: the guys at Google decided to pull one or more litle pranks on us. I wouldn't put it past them to add something like this as a joke. (and they don't need to for copyright purposes, they have the watermarks for that)
Posted by mormagli  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  05:35 PM
Mike here,

On the link posted by Nick, I zoomed out a little and found another group of concentric circles (to the North-West a little from his linked circles. In the center of the NW group of circles is what looks like a small building with a road linking the two circle groups.

If you go to the original triangle/circle group and zoom out to the fourth little pin from the top of the zoom bar then scroll south, you'll see that several of the things posted here are in this north-south corridor. This looks more and more like it fits the theory that these are bomb training tools and not maps for little green men to use as navigation tools.

Oh, and to answer how I found this: I'm a geek and found it on a gaming site.

Posted by Reinstag  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  06:25 PM
Found another triangle, no circles in this one:,-116.208959&spn=0.010579,0.015385&t=k&hl=en
Posted by ErikPSO  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  06:41 PM
Going to the second link that ErikPSO posted, you can go just a little northeast and see more structures like those he pointed to. Around these other groups are what look a lot like craters. Time to test my skills at linking...

Click me!

You'll have to zoom in and clink satelite of course.
Posted by Reinstag  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  06:45 PM
I would guess that those are underground missile silos, but then the government might come after me.
Posted by ErikPSO  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  07:43 PM
Nick's Pal, when the software the site runs on has to automatically 'activate' a link, it seems to get confused by question marks in URLs. If you link via html, then the problems go away.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  07:55 PM
There are three odd structures all in a rough north south lines of each other. The traingle, a comapass, and a cross. There is also an airfield off to the east as well.

So here's my input. They used to do aerial bombing runs, both post and pre hiroshima nuclear bomb being dropped. The idea was to hit a specific area with the nuclear payload and do a sharp 180 turn to get away from the blast as quick as possible. They look like drop zone targets to me, with a nearby airfield. This is probably where they train players who fly the steatlh bombers. Groom lake has been sited as a test grounds for stealth skunk work projects.
Posted by Black Omne  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  02:13 PM
Sorry last post should have said pilots not players. Bad spell check. But what is odd is that you don't see any nearby base to the structures formentioned. There is one but where is it.
Posted by black omne  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  02:17 PM
I was looking around and found this image which clearly shows the "roads" as well... Check it out! 😊
Posted by AlmostAMAZING  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  06:21 PM
FYI, Clicking the link in my last post doesn't seem to be working but if you copy past the url into a browser, that works...
Posted by AlmostAMAZING  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  06:27 PM
god your all sooo naive, its not aliens or a bomb test site, it is obvously the esoteric prision for azathoth, dark lord of the universe whom has been imprisoned by the illuminati and being used as a power battery for their evil deeds... its obvous....

wheres my medication?
Posted by joeodd*FNORD*  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  04:40 AM
David said, "if it is a gridline layout to measure explosive effects, why oblongs instead of perfect circles?"

I suspect that if you did the math, you'd find that they are perfect circles after you remove the effects of their being displayed on a cylindrical projection with a base latitude of 39.5 degrees.
Posted by Ron  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  10:24 AM,-116.868492&sll=34.710938,-112.109525&spn=0.007682,0.009946&sspn=3.851563,7.259440&t=k&hl=en

what do you make of this its like a cricle with lines coming out at the sides, isnt it weird what the government has put all over the south west
Posted by Hawkeye  on  Fri May 13, 2005  at  11:11 AM
Sure looks photoshopped to me.

There couldn't actually be straight lines across contoured terrain that look straight from more than one vantage point.

Here's a sample with some lines I added.

What makes you say it doesn't appear to be photoshopped?

Posted by joe  on  Fri May 13, 2005  at  12:26 PM
There is a process called "orthorectification" that attempts to correct for distortions caused by the limitations of the camera's optical system and by differences in elevation. It doesn't work very well on skyscrapers, but hills aren't generally a big challenge for the software. Depending on the source of that part of Google's image database, they might very well have been orthorectified at some point, thus making the lines straight again.
Posted by Ron  on  Fri May 13, 2005  at  12:31 PM
If it's a conspiracy or a photoshop job, someone at USGS was in on it, way back whenever the topo for that quad was revised (or when it was scanned for the DRG, which was more recently but still a while ago):
Posted by Ron  on  Fri May 13, 2005  at  12:53 PM
And of course my link doesn't work.
Posted by Ron  on  Fri May 13, 2005  at  01:18 PM
That's nothing. There are three patterns out in the desert around Phoenix that look like that. Here's a link to one of them. The others aren't too hard to find by yourself.
Posted by Tim  on  Thu May 19, 2005  at  12:38 PM
Oops, the link didn't come through in my post above so here it is.,-112.633896&spn=0.031328,0.042272&t=k&hl=en
Posted by Tim  on  Thu May 19, 2005  at  12:40 PM
that is near the Yuuca Mountain where they store nuclear waste. It might be some sort of protection
Posted by Pat  on  Tue May 24, 2005  at  07:16 AM
I found a giant metallic disk shaped object..,-112.633896
Posted by n----i0  on  Wed May 25, 2005  at  09:40 PM
The "Star of David" one is likely to be a bombing target simulation as well, since the Soviets would protect their nuclear missle launch sites with several SA-2 rockets laid out in that configuration.

During the Cuban Missle Crisis, U-2 recon photos showed locations just like those being prepared during the build-up.
Posted by Sybaris  on  Thu May 26, 2005  at  12:13 PM
what is this?,-116.226833

Its way north (about 3 minutes of clicking to get there) from the triangle
Posted by nik  on  Sun Jul 03, 2005  at  04:39 PM,-115.961208&spn=0.104859,0.161448&t=k&hl=en

I ment that... whats that?? circle things...O.o

(stupid copy didn't get what I wanted before)
Posted by nik  on  Sun Jul 03, 2005  at  05:27 PM
i think the circle things that nik is talking about are farm fields. the reason they're circular is because they have a sprinkler in the center that spins, causing the circle. as to why they're laid out the way they are (scattered everywhere), i don't know.
Posted by guy  on  Thu Jul 14, 2005  at  05:48 AM
That triangle thing in Nevada is supposedly a target with the #3 on it... there is a similar one if you go a bit to the west with a #2 on it... I have yet to find #1.

it is strange to see that unmarked airstrip... there are several in the area. The one that has been linked here, however, has an airplane sitting on the runway.
Posted by Thnikkamax  on  Mon Jul 18, 2005  at  01:25 AM
The triangle with circles in it are on (or nearby) the Nellis Air Force Range (NAFR). See the links below for more information. This test range covers 3 million acres.
Posted by Dave  on  Thu Aug 18, 2005  at  09:04 AM
I think this is a target out at the test range in nevada. I could be wrong but that is what it looks like, go to the atomic museum web page, I think that is where i saw it the first time.
Posted by lance scott  on  Sat Sep 03, 2005  at  01:52 AM
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