Google Earth is a great, albeit creepy, way to zone in on different areas of the world. It’s great for directions, pre-travel planning, and even spying on our crushes (don’t do that). What it’s not good for is virtual trips around the world at one in the morning, especially knowing that the internet is capable of playing to our greatest fears. Since the service became available to the public, many people have found that satellites can pick up on more than just interesting mountain forms and confusing roadways.
A bit of further digging – or obsessive searching, for some – has led to some pretty interesting discoveries, many of which are still unexplained. Ultimately, the final verdict is always personal opinion, but here are the strangest things that have been found on the map to date.
In Australia, at coordinates 30°30’38.44″S 115°22’56.03″E, a strange triangle dotted with bright lights appears in the middle of a field. When first discovered in 2007, ufologists were quick to call it a “triangle UFO” caught in the act of hovering above Earth. Other Google Earth users say it may be an antenna associated with a nearby remote-controlled wind farm. With three sets of wires forming a triangle, and a tower in the middle, the antenna likely receives and transmits control signals.
The S.S. Jassim, a Bolivian cargo ferry, ran aground and sank on the Wingate Reef off the coast of Sudan in 2003. At 265 feet (81 meters) long, it is now one of the largest shipwrecks visible on Google Earth, and is located at 19° 38′ 46.00″ N, 37° 17′ 42.00″ E.
An odd polka-dot pattern near the cinder cone volcano dubbed Vulcan’s Throne on the north rim of the Grand Canyon may have a simple explanation: ants. Turns out, the desert around the Grand Canyon is home to red harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex barbatus). These pesky critters can create nesting mounds spanning some 47 inches (120 centimeters) across and are typically surrounded by bare ground up to 108 square feet (10 square meters), according to physicist Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, a specialist in image processing and satellite imagery analysis at the Politecnico of Torino in Ital. Sparavigna discusses her theory in a scientific paper posted online on Jan. 11, 2016. (The paper has yet to be peer-reviewed.) The mounds may be responsible for the aerial pattern of scattered circles, though Sparavigna says on-the-ground confirmation is needed.
The Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., is where U.S. military planes go to die. Dubbed “the boneyard,” this 2,600-acre cemetery of steel at coordinates 32 08’59.96″ N, 110 50’09.03″W is closed to the general public, but Google Earth provides a high-resolution glimpse of what’s inside:
virtually every plane the military has flown since World War II — from the B-52 StratoFortress to the F-14 Tomcat — in various stages of decay. A bit of trivia: The boneyard at Davis Monthan was used as the backdrop in the music video for “Learning to Fly” by rock music legend Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The band was shown performing amongst various aircraft hulks.