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No. 96: Nov-Dec 1994

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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 2�C 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