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What are the Russians hiding?


UPDATE: An update of Google’s imagery today (26/6/2013) has now addressed this ‘gap’, revealing just more mountains.

There are not many places that Google doesn’t allow the public to view on their maps, but in a remote section of Russia’s Far East one small section of mountains in Chukotka has been intentionally blurred. On Yahoo Maps the scene is similarly hidden from sight, this time with a more blatant black box. The nearest settlement, Egvekinot, is ~75 km away, and without any obvious roads leading into the area its hard to imagine what secrets could really be here.

Some speculators on the interweb have suggested that due its strategic position near the USA the site is military-related, perhaps harbouring inter-continental missiles. However I find this hard to believe seeing as the Cold War ended over 20 years ago.

Intent on solving the mystery I logged on to the USGS’s EarthExplorer to download some satellite imagery of the region. This was easier said than done though since some datasets simply fail to cover the exact coordinates (e.g. see the Global Land Survey 2000 below).

Nevertheless some imagery is available (mostly Landsat ETM+), and although the permanent Scan Line Corrector failure means it is fairly banded, it appears that the blurred out area is just a continuation of the surrounding mountains (higher-res image). The resolution is 15 metres, but no straight edges appear visible that would indicate man-made structures.

It seems then that the rumours on there being a secret military base in the wilderness are just that – nothing more than a conspiracy theory.


3 comments to “What are the Russians hiding?”

  • Bob, February 18, 2015 at 18:34

    After 10+ years of researching this location the images have only recently been updated to show there actually is something there. I am still not able to resolve what exactly it is, but there’s definitely something where the blur used to be. I don’t believe it is pixilation of the image either. Looks to be a small collection of buildings, all connected together. When you tilt the image you can see it has relief (elevation) also.

    I’ve poured over every satellite image available and for a while I too believed it was just an image ‘drop out’ in all satellite images. Your search on USGS Earth Explorer provides a great clue. However, then I started thinking; if this was a location which could not be photographed by satellite it would have tremendous strategic importance indeed! So I resumed my search. It was then I spotted whatever it is.

    The coordinates the objects are 66.274806 x 178.953213. It looks to be a small complex of some kind with no apparent roads or infrastructure surrounding it.

    Prior to finding this I had honestly hoped my search had finally come to an end and there was a simple explanation after all. I guess the quest continues. I really don’t have an opinion about what is there, but there does appear to be something there other than natural terrain.

  • Josh, April 17, 2013 at 01:45

    I’m very happy you took the time to research this. I have always been interested in this mystery for a very long time and finally get a real technical understand as to why it doesn’t appear on satellite imagery. My question is, why does Google Earth, in their next data collection, get the imagery next time? Why is it constantly blacked out?

    • Henry, April 17, 2013 at 12:59

      I’m not really sure. It could be that they update photos automatically along predefined satellite tracks, so this hole would never get filled. It would be impossible for a satellite not to image this hole eventually, so maybe the imagery collected has not been up to scratch e.g. too much cloud cover.

      I think the Landsat data is fairly convincing evidence that there is nothing hidden…unless someone can show that the imagery over the hole has been cloned from another location nearby!