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Blacked Out Patches in Google Earth?

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 3/21/2010

Where and why are there blacked out patches in Google Earth? Let’s get right to the bottom of this mystery in this two part series explaining why there are sites all over the globe that you can’t see on Google Earth satellite imagery, shall we?

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    Ancient Musings about Modern Marvels

    Folks are prone to ask where and why are there blacked out patches in Google Earth especially when they’ve navigating on this satellite imagery application and find the blacked out areas themselves. What could be down there that is so important that we, the people, are excluded from taking a peek? How dare they? It is only natural to then be ten times more interested about whatever lies under that black strip.

    This topic is fantastic fodder for all kinds of folks who like to spin and propagate conspiracy theories the world over. The government of wherever the blacked out area happens to be must be up to something if Google Earth can’t show what’s down there. The guessing game ranges from super secret big brother monitoring stations to rendezvous points for encounters with little green men from outer space. By the way, read the Difference Between Google Earth & Google Maps if you’re confused about the delineation between these two popular applications.

    Curiously, the actual shape of some of these blacked out areas look like the ineffable “monoliths" that were imagined and put on the big screen in the great 1984 science fiction film 2010 A Space Odyssey long before Google was even knee high to a grass hopper. In the movie, the mysterious monoliths start off small, like blacked out Google rectangles, and then engulf planets although it’s implied they have some sort of life giving force.

    The doomsday clock was winding down alarmingly at the time the film was made, the height of the cold war and nuclear proliferation, so these strange perfectly proportioned monoliths were somehow hopeful signs of a power greater than ourselves restoring us to sanity. Since it is 2010 now, I just thought I’d point out this strange coincidence for whatever it’s worth to you, perhaps a glass of milk and a shrug. But before we leave Russia, you will find a large blurred out region in Siberia seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Furthermore, even with the cold war over, don’t think the game of hiding secrets from each other will ever be over.

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    Missing Pieces of the Earth According to Google

    Blacked Out Area in Alaska Stretching Into Yukon Teritory 

    Before we get any further and you’d like to know some basics about this program, reading Cool Ways to Use Google Earth will set you straight. There are plenty of reasons that governments and nations would have blacked out areas but be forewarned if you find one yourself because sometimes it ends up merely being the result of a software/satellite glitch and nothing more. Then again, alien spacecrafts might be causing the glitchy interferences too. There are even rumors that the Sultan of Brunei buys up squares of miles on Google Earth to preclude people from viewing his sprawling residences scattered about the world.

    So blacked out patches that aren’t just a mistake or glitch are places that are obscured for security reasons or cutting edge, top secret scientific experiments/research/development are taking place there. For instance, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) is most likely what's blacked out in Alaska (the image to the right) because it's an experimental weather station doing all kinds of secret squirrely stuff and it's protected by the U.S. Department of Defense.

    You can still learn a great deal about what's not classified about it at http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/haarp/toc.html. Learn what you want about ionosphere research there; it's some really interesting stuff. The scientists there are trying to make sense out of how the ether operates in terms of physics and bouncing communication signals around up there. Again, I am not absolutely sure that’s what is blacked out there but a great deal of speculation points to that being the case.

    Here's one in Oregon that is believed to be either some sort of government communication building or something to do with energy production. There was a forum in which a great deal of speculation was bandied about and a few people talked about engaging in covert operations to find out what exactly was on this patch of land that was clearly marked and fenced off as private property.

    The infamous Area 51 in the U.S. has long been rumored to be home to a downed alien space craft. However the fact that the latest, most cutting edge aircraft designed by the military are tested there is the reason it might be blacked out, but it’s not (people claim what you see is older, outdated images but either way it’s what is in the hangars that you will never see). Military bases that could be the target of attack can warrant being blacked out in some sort of agreement with Google, the nation unto itself. But as you will learn in the next article, areas are purposefully made blurry in far more cases than being blatantly blacked out. Read on to uncover far more fascinating facts and conspiracy fodder.

The Things Google Earth Won't Let You See

Google Earth has satellite imagery that spans the entire earth yet there are many places around the world that are either entirely blacked out or are blurred so you can't see any detail whatsoever. This series delves into the where and why of this mapping mystery.
  1. Blacked Out Patches in Google Earth?
  2. Excluded Images Google Earth: The Blury Stuff