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How to Discover Impact Craters with Google Earth

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the for-fun-and-more-fun dept.

158

Maikel_NAI writes "Believe it or not, Emilio Gonzalez, a Spaniard amateur began his crater search at home after reading an article about the discovery of Kebira, the biggest one found in the Sahara. After a couple of minutes he located two craters. After checking the records, he realized these were completely new, and now two geologists confirm his findings. And there is more, these craters may be part of a chain studied by NASA geologist Adriana Ocampo, so if it's confirmed that these new ones are part of the same episode, it could mean the definitive evidence for her theory of an asteroid broken into pieces fallen in that area."

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Google Earth (4, Interesting)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14897960)

Ok, so we can easily find anomalies caused by nature, but how about anomalies caused by us? I mean things like Area 51 and nuclear bomb test sites... I wouldn't mind seeing a few of those.

Re:Google Earth (3, Informative)

gellenburg (61212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14897969)

Area 51 is very visible from Google Earth, jus that there's not much to see except a very long runway and some hangars.

Re:Google Earth (5, Funny)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898023)

Obviously Google knows to only allow that to be seen. How long would they survive if they allowed everyone to see evidence of the alien government conspiracy.

So would the lawyer for these people... (5, Interesting)

AnonymousPrick (956548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14897977)

Area 51 workers suing Gov. [abovetopsecret.com]

From the TV specials that I've seen about this, it looks like area 51 was an R&D facility for rockets, planes, and other weapons. Unfortunatley, that requires a lot of toxic chemicals. Also, the workers would burn a lot of the failed projects so that they wouldn't be discovered. Like many areas of the US, one of the biggest polluters is the US Government.

Re:So would the lawyer for these people... (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898941)

From what I heard tho, it wasn't all about pure R&D. They also had caught soviet planes that they were hoping to keep secret there, during the cold war, mainly Mig-21's I think.

Re:Google Earth (5, Informative)

Altima(BoB) (602987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14897979)

Both of those are visible in Google Earth quite easily. Try checking the menu on the left and activating the Google community tabs, especially "military." Enthusiasts point out things like military bases, notable vehicles or facilities and, yes, nuclear test sites. There's an area where you can clearly see many of them in the American west.

Speaking of other manmade items found on google, last september a man found ruins of a roman villa near his house via Google Earth. [nature.com] It is proving itself to be a very fun and useful tool indeed.

Re:Google Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898147)

This is all actually totally very interesting. Seriously.

But Adriana Ocampo? Total porn name!

Re:Google Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898360)

Meteors Gone Wild?
Fill My Craters?

Re:Google Earth (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898155)

It seems like the OSS idea of "Many eyeballs" is doing what it should do.

In this case, the skill requirements to participate are essentially zero, so every extra eyeball can potentially give us great results.

woo hoo!

(Just don't point out the nuclear silos. They hate when you do that.)

Re:Google Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898172)

Really? Slashdot should report on it. [slashdot.org]

Re:Google Earth (4, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898499)

Try checking the menu on the left and activating the Google community tabs, especially "military." Enthusiasts point out things like military bases, notable vehicles or facilities and, yes, nuclear test sites.

Zoom in on the coastline of southern Cuba and you'll see a narrow bay cutting deeply into the shore. With a little imagination you can almost see the IVth, Vth and VIth ammendments of the Constitution of the United States of America being violated.

I don't know if these sorts of out-of-date images of military installations have any practical value, but they do give a certain valuable sense of reality regarding the existence of places that many people would like us to ignore, or forget. It's hard to think of the prison camp where innocent people are being incarcerated without trial[*] as being "out of sight, out of mind" when you can fire up Google Earth and see it plain as day.

[*] Do the math: there are 500+ people there, mostly captured in battlefield conditions in villages and farms. We know the cops, in the best of circumstances, sometimes get the wrong guy. We know the courts, in even better circumstances, sometimes convict the wrong person. So we no with what would be ordinarily called certainty that a non-trivial number of innocent people are being held, indefinitely, without trial, without legal recourse. Even with the most generous assumptions the number comes out to 25 or so. The only question is: are the goals being pursued so valuable and the means being used to pursue them so valuable as to justify the certain incarceration of innocents? "Is life so dear, and peace so sweet..?"

Let's see what Abraham Lincoln had to say (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899004)

Abraham Lincoln is generally regarded as one of the greatest Presidents of the US. Here's an excerpt from his General Order No. 100 [yale.edu] pertaining to treatment of people captured on the battlefield:

Art. 81.

Partisans are soldiers armed and wearing the uniform of their army, but belonging to a corps which acts detached from the main body for the purpose of making inroads into the territory occupied by the enemy. If captured, they are entitled to all the privileges of the prisoner of war.

Art. 82.

Men, or squads of men, who commit hostilities, whether by fighting, or inroads for destruction or plunder, or by raids of any kind, without commission, without being part and portion of the organized hostile army, and without sharing continuously in the war, but who do so with intermitting returns to their homes and avocations, or with the occasional assumption of the semblance of peaceful pursuits, divesting themselves of the character or appearance of soldiers - such men, or squads of men, are not public enemies, and, therefore, if captured, are not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war, but shall be treated summarily as highway robbers or pirates.

Art. 83.

Scouts, or single soldiers, if disguised in the dress of the country or in the uniform of the army hostile to their own, employed in obtaining information, if found within or lurking about the lines of the captor, are treated as spies, and suffer death.

Art. 84.

Armed prowlers, by whatever names they may be called, or persons of the enemy's territory, who steal within the lines of the hostile army for the purpose of robbing, killing, or of destroying bridges, roads or canals, or of robbing or destroying the mail, or of cutting the telegraph wires, are not entitled to the privileges of the prisoner of war.

Art. 85.

War-rebels are persons within an occupied territory who rise in arms against the occupying or conquering army, or against the authorities established by the same. If captured, they may suffer death, whether they rise singly, in small or large bands, and whether called upon to do so by their own, but expelled, government or not. They are not prisoners of war; nor are they if discovered and secured before their conspiracy has matured to an actual rising or armed violence.

Re:Google Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899223)

Some guy claims to have found a Roman villa, near an Italian town, in Italy. Impossible. Mod parent down as Troll

Re:Google Earth (3, Interesting)

value_added (719364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898084)

Ok, so we can easily find anomalies caused by nature, but how about anomalies caused by us?

Well, dunno if you'd consider any of this [hbo.com] as an anomaly, but it's an equally topical use of Google's map technology (season premier is tomorrow, kids).

Maybe someone can find Jimmy Hoffa?

Re:Google Earth (1)

relicownz (960493) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898223)

Im with you on that one i would not mind seeing those areas too, so where are they?

How about Roman Ruins? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898339)

Some guy already discovered a new set of Roman ruins [nature.com] in Italy with Google maps.

Get yourself Google Earth [google.com] and look around. I'm sure a couple of google searches will tell you where most of the nuclear tests have taken place.

This map [atomicarchive.com] will even show you where they've taken place.

I wouldn't even be surprised if many of these things are already cataloged someplace for Google Earth.

Cheers

Re:Google Earth (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898929)

Dude, we can see them very clearly. Actually, that nuclear impact field is quite impressive. You can find it a little south west of Area 51. Most notably there's a big impressive crater that you can see in 3D with an extraordinary depth and shape.

You just have to download Google Earth, and your curiosity will be fully satisfied. Area 51 is a bit disappointing tho, besides the very long runaways, there's ain't much to it

question (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14897970)

what about the craters on cowboy neil's ass from sitting on his fat ass all day playing LAN parties and cruising myspace for girls to molest. i saw cowboy neil on the uncut version of dateline where they invite perverts over online. he come over with a slashdot shirt on and a linux hat, then ran after the reporter confronted him.

Re:question (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14897984)

his mom sucks my cock on a daily basis

Re:question (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14897985)

*sex*

CoralCached (5, Informative)

VisceralLogic (911294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14897986)

Just in case Coral Cache version [nyud.net]

This one will get nailed hard (2, Informative)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898001)

This one's definitely going to need caching by CoralCache and MirrorDot: it got dugg [digg.com] as well.

Historical views (5, Interesting)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14897987)

I know we don't have the previous satellite images from years gone by, but would it be practical to use some sort of image diffing program to look for changes in satellite imagery in the future? Yes, you'd get all the new building activity and whatnot, but we should also be able to tell when new craters hit (or other bigger changes happen) automatically. 'course, I've no idea how often global satellite images are updated, or how long it takes, so it might not be practical any time soon... Hundred years or so from now, it would be fun (if nothing else) to watch movies of how areas changed, both from direct human changes (buildings, etc) and from natural forces (coastal erosion and so on).

Re:Historical views (1, Interesting)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898033)

You certainly would think that the government would be running an algorithm on the satellite photos that would detect any serious change in what it was seeing. If not to see if California had fallen into the Ocean yet, then to see troops massing along a border somewhere...

Re:Historical views (3, Informative)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898131)

The problem with Google earth and Google maps for such a 'real time' analysis such as troops massing is that the photos presented and used are not current. They're not even close to current. I think the images taken for the area surrounding my home is at least a year or more old, based on new construction in the area that does not show in the satellite photos. That building started to go up early last year. Troops massing could be done far faster than those images refresh, if they refresh at all.

Besides, the military has earth-watching satellites for their own private use to watch for such things. They need not rely on a civilian tool for it.

Re:Historical views (1)

blane.bramble (133160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898210)

The Google satellite view of my house is at least 8 years old.

Re:Historical views (1)

legirons (809082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898278)

"Besides, the military has earth-watching satellites for their own private use to watch for such things. They need not rely on a civilian tool for it."

Well-funded militaries like the US army might. Plenty of others don't have satellites of their own (esp. local militia such as the Iraqi resistance)

Re:Historical views (1)

Armadni General (869957) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898294)

Oh, well, we definitely need to make sure they have updated high-altitude keyhole data.

Re:Historical views (1)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898588)

The satellite pictures of my house [komar.org] were shot in the summer/2002 - quite easy to tell since we had a major drought that year.

Sure, real-time satellite imagery would be cool, but realistically, I doubt the government is going to share that ... plus allow you to task one of their birds for an overflight of your house/crater/etc.

Re:Historical views (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898659)

So: paint the current year on the roof of your house.

Re:Historical views (2, Informative)

tyme (6621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898247)

mgkimsal2 [slashdot.org] wrote:

I know we don't have the previous satellite images from years gone by, but would it be practical to use some sort of image diffing program to look for changes in satellite imagery in the future? Yes, you'd get all the new building activity and whatnot, but we should also be able to tell when new craters hit (or other bigger changes happen) automatically. 'course, I've no idea how often global satellite images are updated, or how long it takes, so it might not be practical any time soon... Hundred years or so from now, it would be fun (if nothing else) to watch movies of how areas changed, both from direct human changes (buildings, etc) and from natural forces (coastal erosion and so on).

In all probability we do have plenty of satalite imagery from pervious years (at least from the last 30 years or so), it's probably even fully indexed and available for download from some some [gpo.gov] U.S. government [nga.mil] agency [usgs.gov] or another [nasa.gov] .

As for how long it would take to re-image the entire planet: a little more than a month, at minimum, but probably more like a year on average. The calculation is easy: it takes about 90 minutes to make one orbit of the Earth in low orbit. If we assume a conservative low orbit altitude of 100 miles and a conservative aperature for the orbital camera of 22 degrees, we get a ground track about 40 miles wide. The Earth's circumference is about 24,000 miles so it would take 600 orbits to get imagery strips covering the entire equator (assuming a polar or near-polar orbit). That would take at least 600*90 minutes = 5400 minutes / 60 minutes in an hour = 900 hours / 24 hours in a day = 37.5 days.

You can already get time-lapse movies and comaprison photos showing coastal erosion and human impact, the difference over only 10 years is quite noticable (heck, the difference from year to year for barrier islands is astonishing).

Re:Historical views (1)

morane (773038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898842)

Landsat 7 fly over the same place every 19 days

Re:Historical views (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898259)

The short answer: Yes, we've had that for a looong time. Google Earth is neat, and it's great that home-users now how access to this kind of data, but this field (called remote sensing) is well established with some amazing capabilities.

What you're talking about is called change detection. It's most commonly used for biodiversity inventory and urbanization growth measurements. The successfullness of change detection is dependent on a lot of variables, but can work very well. I used a sort of change detection to help delineate the transient snow altitude- a common elevation at which glaciers change from predominately ice-covered to predominately snow-covered.

There are lots of different systems that take these images. Some can reshoot an area in a days, some once a month, a year, maybe never again. Again, there a lots and lots of factors involved. Do a search for remote sensing basics and you'll probably find lots of cool stuff about it. If you're into this kind of thing...

Crater studies and Air Force DSP (2, Interesting)

amightywind (691887) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898323)

The US has had much of the world's surface under continuous large scale infrared observation for 25 years or more with the Air Force DSP [af.mil] program. It can easily detect the smallest asteroid or comet impacts. I don't know if a scientific survey of its data has ever been done.

Re:Historical views (1)

pz (113803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898575)

[Comparing images] we should also be able to tell when new craters hit.

Technically, craters are the result of an imapact, not the impactor itself. But more importantly, we already know about about substantial meteorite impacts because of their signature on the global seismological / nuclear explosion sensing network.

The visible craters are probably far too old (4, Interesting)

jesterzog (189797) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898595)

I know we don't have the previous satellite images from years gone by, but would it be practical to use some sort of image diffing program to look for changes in satellite imagery in the future? Yes, you'd get all the new building activity and whatnot, but we should also be able to tell when new craters hit (or other bigger changes happen) automatically.

If you mean to search for impact craters, then it's probably not at all practical for the types of craters that are discussed in this article. The initial crater mentioned is 195 kms in diameter. The article's not specific about the other two, but it seems that they're also on the order of many kilometres in diameter. Add to that that they'll be very very old, probably on the order of many tens of thousands to millions or hundreds of millions of years depending on the size and state. The erosion of them is part of the main reason they wouldn't have been discovered until now.

If any of these craters were created in modern times, we'd very definitely know about it, irrespective of where on the Earth it was. If the entire Earth's sky didn't turn red and light wasn't blocked for years and large populations weren't killed, the impact would show up quite obviously on geological equipment for detecting Earth tremors.

There are probably smaller impact craters forming on a more common basis if there were extremely high resolutions available, but they'd also be eroding much more quickly. Consequently you'd likely need very high resolutions, and need new ones frequently, and then some reliable algorithm for filtering out every farmer (or rabbit) who's dug a small hole for some reason.

I'm an amateur astronomer but I'm not an expert on meteorite impacts, so I'd be interested to hear the comments of someone who knew a bit more about satellite images and impact craters. It seems pretty unlikely to me from my own understanding that it'd be infeasible, though.

"Optical Recgnition"? (3, Interesting)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14897996)

Anyone have photo recgnition software that might look for the "raised circle" in a ring foot print and then wander over the map looking for interesting locations. You could use that database as a great testbed.

Re:"Optical Recgnition"? (5, Informative)

Astroseti (960483) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898067)

Hi, I'm Emilio, the "discoverer"

The main problem is that circularity is not a proof by itself, because it can be caused by other natural processes.

Impacts don't have to be circles necessarily, it depends on the path inclination. They could be ellipses too. (I'm learning a lot these days)

Another problem is that I found with Google Earth great portions of Africa are cloud covered. If would be great if they could make the mosaics showing only pictures without clouds.

I don't think, but maybe I'm wrong, that there are many structures missing with such clear structure. I was really lucky, but most structures should be very erosioned like the candidates close to Arorunga, that need radar images to show details.

I'm now also using NASA World Wind, and it has some interesting features shuch false colors that help to better distinguishing structures. Anyway Google Earth is great for sweeping big areas

Re:"Optical Recgnition"? (4, Interesting)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898156)

Good job Emilio! I decided to try Worldwind as well, and your discoveries stick out like a sore thumb using Nasa's program. Yes, Google Earth scrolls faster, but I think Worldwind is better for seeing the detail.

Re:"Optical Recgnition"? (4, Informative)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898228)

worldwind://goto/world=Earth&lat=21.74227&lon=19.3 4509&alt=58760
worldwind://goto/world=Earth&lat=21.28825&lon=19.3 4041&alt=58916
For his two features in worldwind.

Re:"Optical Recgnition"? (2, Insightful)

John Muir (912474) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898312)

Worldwind is a great companion app to Google Earth. I find its interface more intuitive when looking for visuals instead of just using text searches, and having a choice of imagery is a big bonus.

Google Earth's eye for aerial detail is great, but Worldwind is definitely not to be overlooked.

Re:"Optical Recgnition"? (2, Interesting)

cluckshot (658931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898151)

Just remember that craters have many causes. What is more both of the "craters" in Africa are not impact craters as they are not "blasted out" like is supposed to happen on impact. If they are in fact craters, they are probably plasma discharge craters or volcanic structures. www.thunderbolts.info has a lot of data on this. See picture of the day for 3/10/2006 etc. See the Sedan crater

Re:"Optical Recgnition"? (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898543)

That site has lots of data on lots of things. Like that pretty much every crater on the earth and the moon is caused by electrical discharges. And that electricity is the "energy" that makes stars shine. And that comet tails are due to electrical discharge. And that electric forces rather than gravity shape the solar system and galaxies. And ... well, pretty much all the nonsense that the electric universe people keep raving about.

Re:"Optical Recgnition"? (1)

cluckshot (658931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898951)

Try reading for a change. The reality is that electrical forces are 10^39 more powerful than gravity. The reality is almost nothing we see in the universe is predictable by the gravity theory. Many things are too energetic to match to gravity. But heckling is a typical nonsense response.

Electrical forces all match well to what is seen. Electrical forces are powerful enough to do what is going on. Electrical forces are laboratory verifiable and they do check out! Electrical forces are obvious from as far as NASA's tether experiments, to the Van Allen Radiation Belts, to Solar prominences to the Northern lights and so on. The fact is that the Gravity guys have sold people a pig in a poke and people really believe them. Volcanism and Earthquake activity on earth is 100 times more energetic than both gravity and nuclear decay could produce.

NASA measured a current between Jupiter and Io at 50,000 amperes at 30,000 volts to the inch. (Do a little math and quit heckling) That is so much current that it can and does do what is claimed.

I think I found one using Google Earth ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898000)

But when I emailed an impact geologist, I got no response. I won't say where, but it's not one of these.

Re:I think I found one using Google Earth ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899190)

Why won't you say where? Why not just put the info up on your website/blog, and then tell other amateur groups about your find?

They'll be able to contact geologists who will be interested in checking it out, and will also provide a community for you.

I don't see why you wouldn't want the information out there - there's no prize for keeping it secret, and only recognition for making it public. And by making it public you can help add to human knowledge, which is always a good thing.

Google Earth tourism (5, Interesting)

FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898008)

You can find many interesting sights on Google Earth (and Maps). Some of the ones I've found interesting are:

Australia's Great Barrier Reef
The USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor
China's Three Gorges dam
The Golden Gate Bridge

Re:Google Earth tourism (2, Interesting)

VisceralLogic (911294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898028)

I found the pyramids at Giza. That's pretty cool.

Re:Google Earth tourism (5, Interesting)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898054)

The Register [theregister.co.uk] had a fun black helicopters competition [theregister.co.uk] - looking for covert military stuff with Google Earth. They've had plenty of weird Google Earth things featured [google.co.uk] , including an incredible, um, giant profanity [theregister.co.uk] . Wahey.

Re:Google Earth tourism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898661)

For a moment there, I thought you had found the "single word" from /usr/share/games/fortunes/work

Between 1950 and 1952, a bored weatherman, stationed north of Hudson
Bay, left a monument that neither government nor time can eradicate.
Using a bulldozer abandoned by the Air Force, he spent two years and
great effort pushing boulders into a single word.

It can be seen from 10,000 feet, silhouetted against the snow.
Government officials exchanged memos full of circumlocutions (no Latin
equivalent exists) but failed to word an appropriation bill for the
destruction of this cairn, that wouldn't alert the press and embarrass
both Parliament and Party.

It stands today, a monument to human spirit. If life exists on other
planets, this may be the first message received from us.
                                -- The Realist, November, 1964.


I would look for it myself if there were searchable satellite imagery which worked in Konqueror or Firefox without Javascript, and/or if I wasn't so lazy.

Re:Google Earth tourism (1)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898822)

After seeing some of the black helicopters I decided to take a look in Google Earth at a nearby National Guard base. The satellite images clearly show "black helicopters". The landing strip is about 300 yards from a major north-south highway, and the "black helos" are usually cunningly disguised as green helos. Damn, they're good, hiding the secret black helos in full view of thousands of motorists...:)

Re:Google Earth tourism (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898057)

Ohhh! that is a big security risk!
Using these maps, terrorists could know where to throw their bombs when they want to hit the Golden Gate Bridge or Three Gorges dam!!

Re:Google Earth tourism (4, Informative)

toxcspdrmn (471013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898077)

For more interesting sights see Google Sightseeing [googlesightseeing.com] .

Meeeeh (2, Insightful)

nottoogeeky (869124) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898051)

Only certain regions are actually photographed well enough for you to see anything decent. One thing i really hope they improve on.

How cool is that? (4, Interesting)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898052)

It's easy to get caught up in the idea that either everything cool that's discoverable by amateurs has already been discovered, or that it takes years of experience or expensive tools to do "new" work in science. This discovery, by someone whose interest was piqued a few days ago by a translated article, should serve as a reminder that there are still things out there that people without a formal science degree can discover.

Re:How cool is that? (-1, Troll)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898088)

Yes. You, too, can go out to your back yard right now, and find an anthill which was totally unknown to science. It may even be part of a cluster of anthills descendent from a queen once studied by a professor at your local community college. I'm so breathless with anticipation I'm going to stop reading this article about the most mundane inanity I can even conceive of and go find myself Patio11's Anthill right now!

Re:How cool is that? (2, Insightful)

NorbrookC (674063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898219)

The idea that amateurs don't (or can't) do good science or make important discoveries is a more recent addition to popular culture - and it's wrong.

Admittedly, there are fields where it's true - like particle physics, stem cell research, or transplant biology, since the "entry level" for equipment and training is something you're not going to be able to pick up on the cheap (unless you're Bill G).

That said, there are many fields where 'amateurs' not only make important discoveries, they're actually the predominant workers in those fields. Comet discoveries and near-earth astronomy, paleontology, archaeology, and geology among others all have large numbers of amateurs - even outnumbering the "professionals".

What's interesting and exciting about this is that it's given a new set of tools for everyone who's interested to use.

Re:How cool is that? (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898737)

All of those things could have predicative theories offered just seeing other's research in new ways. Science is not all about experimentation. It just takes either a bigger brain or more time to come up with a theory without equipment.

Re:How cool is that? (1)

Maikel_NAI (829338) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898282)

Well, he may be amateur, but he's also well connected.
Some pictures of him, me and "some unknown" persons in San Francisco ;-)
http://www.astroseti.org/galeria.php [astroseti.org]

Free information means news information (3, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898098)

Let's see, we've had archeological sites found by google earth, asteroid impacts found by google earth... who knows what's next?

I love this! You free up information, allow the unwashed masses access to it, and people find hidden treasure. Think how much we'd never know if all this was DRMed, locked and restricted!

Google, don't ever change.

Re:Free information means news information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898708)

Because hollywood and the RIAA have a vested interest over sat images?

Stop being a over-zealous slashdotter and get realistic.

Re:Free information means news information (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899217)

Because hollywood and the RIAA have a vested interest over sat images?

Since when is DRM only for hollywood movies and music from RIAA members?

Stop being a over-zealous slashdotter and get realistic.

Stop being a narrow-minded drone and get realistic.

These images have owners. Someone took these pictures, someone sold these pictures. Maps are a business, with copyrights. This, google earth, and others like 'em, is a threat to their entrenched business model, just like P2P is a threat to hollywood and the RIAA.

You think that the people who print raod atlases are happy about google offering a free, and better version of what they peddle? You think that they didn't object? Sheesh!

Re:Free information means news information (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899034)

I love this! You free up information, allow the unwashed masses access to it, and people find hidden treasure. Think how much we'd never know if all this was DRMed, locked and restricted!

If you lot had DRM'd all this stuff up, that treasure would have been ours. See you in court.

-- The Dentist

Re:Free information means news information (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899145)

-- The Dentist

Deliciously obscure : )

That... (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899077)

That sounds like commie talk to me. Get 'em boys!

Seriously though, of course you're correct. When information is Free, we all benefit.

Re:That... (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899167)

Seriously though, of course you're correct. When information is Free, we all benefit.

Alas, for some, when we all benefit, they feel that something is amiss.

I feel like this is a unautomated version of SETI@home: distributed information analysis, by hand. Pretty awesome. Ah, the power of the internet... not just for porn anymore :-)

It's a neat idea, but... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898157)

As a geologist, I know that there are a great many processes that can form roughly circular geological structures besides impacts. For example, deformation associated with salt diapirs (AKA "salt domes") and plug-shaped igneous intrusions, among many others. So, although it is reasonable to identify impact *candidates* with aerial or satellite imagery, and many impact structures have been found that way initially, there are also many false positives. As the article mentions, it takes ground geological evidence to determine one way or the other.

Here's some examples:

a circular structure in Louisiana [google.com] -- this is related to a salt structure beneath the surface. There are several in the area. It has been somewhat enhanced by artificial canals and other development.

volcanic cones [google.com] in various stages of erosion in Mexico. Volcanic cones are usually fairly easy to distinguish from impacts, but if they are deeply eroded (e.g., after the eruptions have stopped, and the peak has been worn down to the igneous plug in the center), they could be confused with well-eroded craters.

salt domes and folding-related structures [google.com] in the Zagros Mountains of southern Iran.

There is *alot* of awesome geology visible from space, especially in desert areas without much vegetation (I *love* Google Earth), but people should evaluate the possibilities skeptically. In the sum total of circular structures out there, probably only a fraction of a percent have anything to do with impacts.

For comparison, here are a few legitimate impact structures:

Clearwater Lakes [google.com] in northern Quebec, Canada.

Lake Manicouagan [google.com] , also in Quebec. The best places to look for craters is often these very old parts of the continents (called continental shields), where the surface has been exposed for a long, long time, even on geological scales.

In the same area you'll also notice round structures like these [google.com] that relate to igneous intrusions (usually granites or other plutonic rocks) and which have nothing to do with impacts.

Meteor Crater, Arizona [google.com] is a "simple" crater, which is bowl-shaped. Most of the bigger ones (like the ones above) are "complex craters" with one or more raised rings or central areas.

I guess if Google Earth ever adds a geological map layer, it might make hunting for impacts a little less hit-and-miss, but geological maps aren't usually how people navigate or locate a business, so I can't see that happening soon ;-)

Re:It's a neat idea, but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898502)

N22 06 53 E 17 55 15 (new?)
N21 44 E 19 20
N21 17 E 19 20
N22 38 E 19 18

N22 02 E 19 13 (part of chain...?)
N22 09 E 19 27

N19 05 E 19 14 (possibly new?)

Re:It's a neat idea, but... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898877)

Yes, there are lots of circular structures in that part of Africa, but whether or not they represent impact structures can not be easily determined without referring to a geological map or doing some ground study. However, there are clues that these particular ones are not impact structrures.

For one thing, notice that the example at 22 06 53 N, 17 55 15 E [google.com] has a circular "mate" just to the south, at 22 deg 04' 24" N [google.com] . The northern one appears to have an outer ring and an inner raised zone -- suggestive of a complex crater. The southern one, though, just looks like a raised blob, which is not typical. Both have a similar "pinkish brown" colour compared to the surrounding, slightly darker and greener outcrops to the east (the really light zones are desert sand, rather than bedrock, and aren't relevant except as an indication of the topography -- they are lower). The southern of these two looks an awful lot like an ordinary granitic or other igneous intrusion. Its similarity to the ringed one that you mentioned makes me suspicious that they are both the same type of feature.

There are also a bunch of definite volcanoes in the area (it is in Chad), such as at: 21 deg 02' 51" N 17 deg 39' 58" E [google.com]
21 deg 02' 48" 16 deg 30' 22" E [google.com] . The former is fairly eroded, the latter is pretty recent -- it has dark-coloured lava flows visible around it. The caldera slightly to the SE has a saline lake in it (produces the blue colour).

There are a few [nasa.gov] more detailed [nasa.gov] explanations [nasa.gov] at NASA's "Earth from Space" [nasa.gov] website of astronaut photography. Though the explanations are only for a few scattered locations over a vast area, they are a great baseline for attempting interpretations elsewhere in the world as you explore things with Google Earth or similar tools. I highly recommend it.

I suspect alot of the circular structures seen in this area [google.com] are just volcanic centers in various stages of erosive degradation or even exposure of the former magma chambers beneath them.

To figure it out for sure would still take fieldwork, but what information is known (e.g., take a look at those "Earth from Space" examples) makes me pretty skeptical they are impacts. But don't let that opinion discourage you from looking and asking questions.

Thank you, Google for bringing the fun of geology to everyone!

Re:It's a neat idea, but... (2, Informative)

adavidw (31941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898859)

I guess if Google Earth ever adds a geological map layer, it might make hunting for impacts a little less hit-and-miss, but geological maps aren't usually how people navigate or locate a business, so I can't see that happening soon ;-)

I'm not sure what you mean by "geological map layer". However, just in case you didn't know, Google Earth (the stand alone program) does have topography, and renders all the maps in three dimensions. I personally have spent many hours staring at impact craters and volcanic craters that way, just 'cause I think it's so cool.

Re:It's a neat idea, but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898953)

By "geological map layer", I mean color-coded formations and other structures. Topography and marking features such as volcanoes is a start, but geologists usually map whole areas by the type of bedrock or surface sediments, the relative age, major faults, volcanoes, et cetera. Most countries have a geological survey of some kind whose job it is to map the geology of the country. In the U.S., it is the United States Geological Survey, in Canada, it is the Geological Survey of Canada, and there are often state or provincial efforts too. There is substantial economic interest via mining, agriculture, and water resources, so geology is important enough to document properly. We do live on the Earth, after all.

Most of the world has been mapped, though at highly variable levels of detail. For example, here's an interactive geological map of Kentucky [uky.edu] . See all the pretty colors? Each is a rock formation of a particular age.

Fusing the detailed local compilations into one global map would be very challenging because of differences in terminology and conventions, but there are several generalized continent and global-scale compilations that have been published on paper.

None of this detracts from the fact that the current incarnation of Google Earth is *very* cool.

Googlicious! (5, Funny)

Kittie Rose (960365) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898159)

Man, all we need now is a Google Mars, and we won't have to bother with all this Orbiter crap.

*yawn* You mean this? (4, Informative)

AnswerIs42 (622520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898558)

Mars will be included with the World Wind 1.3.4 release (Beta version should be out in a few weeks).

But here is a post about the imagery [alteviltech.com] that is currently "ready" there will also be a full color imagery dataset by release time.

There is also an add-on to view Venus [nasa.gov] imagery in World Wind. Though that is not yet with a 3D texture yet.

Don't get me wrong.. GE is a nice image viewer, but you can't really expand it's boundries that far.

Impact Craters (1)

Athorne (960489) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898181)

I was hunting rocks one day, and I found a lot of craters and went down in some and I've always thought that they were impact craters. When I got home I logged on to Terraserver (This was before Google Earth) and found out that there were TONS more that I didn't see. I should try looking at the spot with Google Earth.

Google Sight Seeing (5, Interesting)

ntsucks (22132) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898192)

If you just want to look at cool stuff with Google Maps/Earth, without the searching. This place www.googlesightseeing.com [googlesightseeing.com] has tons of cool stuff found in Google Maps/Earth.

Dr. Strangelove (2, Funny)

Doomedsnowball (921841) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898207)

I wonder how much the US millitary could have saved using Google Earth to search for WMD test craters in Iraq...

Re:Dr. Strangelove (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898345)

using Google Earth to search for WMD test craters in Iraq...

      Mustard gas doesn't leave a crater.

Re:Dr. Strangelove (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898539)

Especially mustard gas that doesn't exist..

Re:Dr. Strangelove (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898553)

Well, they KNEW there arent any craters, because you cannot seriously detonate a nuke anywhere on the world without it being detected (both by satelites searching for gamma rays and by seismologic shocks that are created)

OMG! Right here! (2, Funny)

Lizard Slayer (931649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898216)

In Smallville ... a plethora of planetoid parts.

There's one near Boston (1)

MetricT (128876) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898241)

Here's an interesting one north of Boston. Not in the database either.

http://maps.google.com/?ll=43.114142,-71.191235&sp n=0.090475,0.159645&t=k [google.com]

Re:There's one near Boston (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898725)

That's Patuckaway Lake. I reported that one months ago to an impact geologist and got no answer, so I guess it's not an impact feature.

I hear Google Earth is nice... (1, Redundant)

DragonWyatt (62035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898262)

... Can anyone tell me when there will be a Linux client released?
Surely it can be done.

Re:I hear Google Earth is nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898355)

yes - it's called Google Maps (instead of Google Earth) :-)

http://maps.google.com/ [google.com]

Re:I hear Google Earth is nice... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898483)

Google ain't interested in supporting an OS for deadbeat faggots. Fuckers who pinch pennies by building their own systems and are too cheap to pay for a real OS? What kind of customers are those? Fuck that linux shit straight to hell, retard.

Google says to get with the times and not wallow in the hollow lie known as linux. it just ain't happening.

Worked for me! (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898442)

It took 3 minutes of search to find an unregistered "circular thingy" in North Africa, 6 miles in diameter and 20 in circumference, in northern Nigeria at 21.35 N 9.14 E.

Err, Niger, not Nigeria (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898458)

Yeah, big typo, but I just woke up, so that's my excuse.

KMZ (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898466)

Here's a KMZ I put together to show the locations of the craters. If you have Google Earth installed you can just upzip it then double-click the icon. Clkoerner.com [clkoerner.com] Enjoy!

Alternative (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898474)

Now, it would have been interesting if it was: Discover How to Impact Craters with Google Earth

Crater things.. (1)

Dawnspire (960514) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898688)

21.34N 3.21E, There's a few right there, just to the left of brian0918s crater.. Best viewed from about 30 miles. Or how about one just south of there, 20.12N 3.244E, try a 200 foot drop in elevation 'crater', along with(no background- just movies) some type of scrape 20-25 miles long leading up to it. OR how about 22.79N 1.88E..all in a line.

Mmmmm... Google-iscious! (1)

pjt48108 (321212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898747)

I love Google Earth. I find myself in a situation where I think I may have discovered an impact site, albeit in a very open and obvious place. I have been following up on it through various universities here in Michigan (where I am, and the mystery spot is), and yes, it seems lots of people are getting into Google Earth and discovering such things (based on responses I have gotten back).

Cool (1)

norite (552330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898778)

I've just started putting an impact crater site together - starting with the largest and oldest known structure, Vredefort, in South Africa....You'll find it on Google Earth too, but I have several vector layers and so far 5 different raster data sets that GE doesn't have :) it runs off Mapserver.

Google Earth - one in each classroom. (2, Insightful)

Rational (1990) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898861)

I've been addicted to Google Earth ever since I came across it. Generally, I'm very skeptical about the use of computers in the classroom environment, I think they are help and hindrance in pretty much equal measure - but there should be a computer running Google Earth in every classroom. It's a fantastic tool for teaching geography and geology, and would even help with biology, history and politics.

Google Earth on Linux (1)

ecorona (953223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898890)

I've always liked Google and their products. I was very disappointed when I saw that Google started ignoring linux, so they lost a few brownie points with me. Don't you guys feel the same way? I mean, I'm a fairly recent linux convert. What do you hardcore linux advocates say?

Clearwater Lakes.. and it's nearby neighbour.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898905)

>Clearwater Lakes http://maps.google.com/?t=k&ll=56.142489,-74.40490 7&spn=1.741382,3.345337&t=k [google.com] [google.com] in northern Quebec, Canada. And don't miss the somewhat obvious and much larger one just left of Clearwater..
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