Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 96: Nov-Dec 1994

Issue Contents

Other pages











Satellite Spies Strange Stripes

ERS-1, Europe's remote-sensing satellite, snapped some pictures of Australia's Nullarbor Plain that have geologists scratching their heads. The Nullarbor Plain, which has long been billed as a vast, featureless desert, is crossed by five long, parallel lines, 15 kilometers wide and 600 kilometers long. These huge stripes would seem to be too big to miss, but ground-based surveys see nothing obvious. Even more curious, infrared sensors on a US weather satellite also see the five stripes. As the Nullarbor Plain cools off at night, the stripes are found to be about 2C cooler than the surrounding terrain.

Could they be fault lines? Geologists have not found any in the area.

(Anderson, Ian; "Satellite Spies Strange Stripes in the Desert," New Scientist, p. 10, September 3, 1994.)

Comment. Are these stripes akin to the man-made Nazca lines etched upon Peru's high desert? Not likely; they are too big. Instead, we wonder whether they might be associated with the Nullarbor Plain's massive lode of meteorites. (SF#80)

From Science Frontiers #96, NOV-DEC 1994. 1994-2000 William R. Corliss