Area 51 Altered in Google Earth?

I was having a bit of fun yesterday with Google Earth. I was joined by Tim King of style:guide podcast. Apart from Tim finding my house only using text messages (quite an acheivement I thought) we found something quite strange in Area 51.

I was looking at Area 51 because I heard that there were aliens there (inserted by the Google crew), but apparently that was only an April Fools gag. But what I did find was not.

I found an area that upon first glance looked like just another strip of dirt. But on closer inspection the dirt colour looks like it has been “pasted” onto a structure. The image looks to have been altered in some way. There are a few points that you might want to consider when you look at it:

  • It could be something white, like roofing iron; laying on the ground but it seems an odd shape for that
  • Note the edges of the dirt colouring, it looks to be pixelized and uneven, especially where the white is
  • Have a look at the shadow at the top right, something with height is casting that shadow
  • If the dirt colour is just the colour of a structure then why is there no shadow at the top of the image? Compare this with other structures that are in close proximity and the shadow direction and length
  • The colour that looks to have been pasted over the top doesn’t match at the top and left side

So it might be nothing and just a quirk of the image. However, Tim is a web designer and works extensively with image software. He maintains that the image has been altered in some way. He does admit though that he is not an expert in satelite imagery. Then there is the “… it just doesn’t look right” feeling you get when you look at it, and it does’nt.

If there is someone with some expertise that can tell us what is going on with this image then that would be great! Because it has us stumpped. We tried to think of just what would do it without manipulating it. We could not think of anything.

Here is a link to the specific building/structure in Google Earth, this link is a .kmz link and requires Google Earth to work. Note that the placemark in Google Earth is not on the area of interest the “>>>>” point to it. If you do not have Google Earth then you can link to the image on Google Maps.

The exact co-ordinates of the building are:

Lattitude: 37°13’24.41″N

Longitude: 115°49’7.51″W

Google Earth Image

This image has not been resized or altered by the author of this post