Unidentified: This bizarre structure was spotted by a Google Maps satellite on the borders of Gansu province and Xinjiang
A Google Maps satellite has spotted a series of bizarre structures during a sweep of the Gobi desert in China.
The internet is buzzing with theories about what their purpose is, with suggestions ranging from giant QR readers to practise targets for military satellites.
To add to the intrigue, they are located on the borders of Gansu province and Xinjiang in northwestern China – an area that the superpower uses to build military, space and nuclear equipment.
Some internet users have been trying to overlay one of the strange structures on to various U.S. city maps, worried that there may be a sinister military purpose behind them.
Others have pointed out that if China wanted to attack a U.S. city, it doesn’t need a practice map in the desert.
What’s also fuelling the mystery is that it’s just too difficult to tell what the structures are made of – whether they are painted on or dug into the landscape.
However, upon zooming in, planes and burnt-out trucks can be seen on some of the photographs, which hints that they may indeed be targets of some kind.
Mysterious: At the center of this structure you can make out planes and trucks, less than 100 miles from Jiuquan where China’s space programme can be found.
Speculation: Some internet users have been overlaying the strange structures over maps of U.S cities while a closer view shows burnt out vehicles (right) which have raised questions about whether the desert has been used for military purposes
Close-up: A zoomed in version of the grid has fulled speculation over the purpose of the structures
This is the second time in a number of days that the search giant has published photographs of possibly secret facilities.
Last week it published pictures of Iranian facilities which the UN says may be used to develop nuclear weapons.
The overhead pictures were released by Google following a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which expressed ‘serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme’.