Google Earth has picked up the existence of a series of large, irregular and so far unidentified structures in China’s Gobi desert. The structures – some of which are large concentric circles, and some of which are strange connections of small white straight lines – have created a sense of mystery, as people try to work out what exactly the Chinese are doing.
You can see some of the photos here: a large, grid-like structure that looks like a city with no buildings; a similar structure with more irregular edges; a series of circles with jets at the centre; a set of squares; and a series of what appear to be oddly-coloured runways.
One photo, which apparently dates from 2007 to 2008, shows large orange blocks arranged in a circle. Another shows jets parked in the middle of a series of concentric circles. Some of the sites are nearly 20 miles long, and all are in remote areas of the desert, far from any other activity. They are on the borders of Gansu province and Xinjiang, and the closest site of interest is Jiuquan, the headquarters of China’s space programme and the location of its launch pads, about 100 miles away.
Inevitably, the images have raised suspicions that China is doing something highly secretive and possibly connected with aliens. But others point out that there’s probably a rational, and quite boring, explanation. The most popular theory so far is that the patterns might be optical tests for experimental missiles, a theory supported by the fact that some of the sites appear to have debris strewn across them.