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Mysteries

Noah’s Search: Probing Satellite Imagery for Lost Ark

Noah's Search: Probing Satellite Imagery for Lost Ark 86

By Leonard David, Space.com’s Space Insider Columnist

Moviegoers were recently treated to “Noah,” an epic story of bravery and sacrifice from the Old Testament, a saga in which the titular character takes on the divine mission to build an ark to save creation from an apocalyptic deluge.

Outside the big screen, speculation has swirled for decades that the leftovers of Noah’s Ark hug the heights of Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey — at a spot known as the Ararat anomaly. In true detective jargon, call it an “anomaly of interest.”

Satellite imagery and analysis may make it possible to resolve the mystery.

Credible rumors

Porcher Taylor, a professor of paralegal studies in the School of Professional and Continuing Studies at the University of Richmond, has led the search into the Mt. Ararat anomaly. Taylor’s quest began long ago, he said.

“The cognitive genesis of my journey began in 1973, some 41 years ago, in my junior year as a cadet at West Point,” he told Space.com. Back then, Taylor came across “credible rumors” ricocheting off the walls of the academy that a CIA spy satellite had accidentally imaged “what appeared to be the bow of a ship sticking up out of the ice cap on Mt. Ararat,” Taylor said.

A couple of decades later, Taylor launched his own satellite declassification initiative investigating the Mt. Ararat anomaly imagery.

Drawing on his  21 years of arm-chair sleuthing, Taylor has given unclassified presentations at the Pentagon and the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center.

Along the way, he declared victory in convincing the Defense Intelligence Agency in 1995 to declassify five 1949 U.S. Air Force aerial photos of Mt. Ararat. Additionally, thanks to Taylor’s invitations, a number of experts over the years have “performed analyses of the satellite imagery, which thankfully tempered my zeal as an amateur,” Taylor said.

Biblical proportions

So in this day and age, why continue the journey? The wealth of information provided by DigitalGlobe’s satellite imagery keeps Taylor going, he said.

“My ultimate goal has always been that my acquisition over the years of progressively higher- and higher-resolution satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe of the anomaly might definitively change the anomaly into a known entity, either something geological or perhaps something of Biblical proportions,” Taylor said.

DigitalGlobe’s new and powerful WorldView-3 spacecraft is slated for launch from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base in summer 2014. Among its customer-provided attributes, the satellite will yield 31-centimeter (12 inches) panchromatic resolution, making it the highest-resolution commercial satellite in the world.

“DigitalGlobe’s constellation of satellites would be the envy of Indiana Jones,” Taylor told Space.com. “I’m grateful and humbled that Digital Globe has flown numerous gratis missions for me over Mt. Ararat over the past decade, especially the QuickBird satellite mission of February 2003 that captured the boat-like form of the anomaly at 15,000 feet, without excessive amounts of snow and ice cover.”

Precise view

Similar technology has already secured valuable scientific data for other purposes. Satellite imagery has proven to be a valuable tool for providing accurate information about the changing planet, said Kumar Navulur, senior director at DigitalGlobe’s Product Development & Labs in Longmont, Colorado.

“State-of-the-art remote-sensing technology and analytics are now so advanced, we can not only view detailed information about man-made features, but also monitor the wonders of some of Mother Nature’s hidden treasures,” Navulur told Space.com. “For example, we have mapped polar bear patterns in the Arctic and penguin populations in the Antarctic,” he said.

Navulur said that satellite imagery provides such a precise view from space “that we are able to proactively observe environmental changes which unravel human footprints from thousands of years ago, such as the Ararat anomaly, and contribute to space archeology in a real and meaningful manner.”

Taylor hopes that a future DigitalGlobe satellite image might catalyze a scientific organization like National Geographic to launch an expedition to explore up under the ice cap on Mt. Ararat’s Western Plateau at the 15,000-foot level.

The “game-changing” WorldView-3 satellite, Taylor said, “might just accomplish that goal, as that will be the world’s first commercial satellite to have that skill set … a quantum leap in satellite technology!”

Dogged determination

Additional analytical techniques have aided Taylor in his mission. He recently made use of a panchromatic texture uniqueness analysis of the anomaly, provided by remote sensing researcher and Ph.D. candidate Francois Luus from the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and Luus’ research supervisor, Sunil Maharaj.

Imagery used in the work was gleaned by the QuickBird satellite mission at 61 centimeters resolution in 2003. All the details of that recent analysis of the Mt. Ararat anomaly can be found in the following six-page report at: http://goo.gl/f8O3gs

Luus told Space.com that Taylor displays the tenacity and dogged determination characteristic of a successful investigator.

“His ability to rally support and repeatedly obtain specially commandeered satellite imagery of the Ararat anomaly is inspiring,” Luus said.

Solving the riddle

Luus’ texture analysis completed will help Taylor and others determine the anomaly’s identity, Luus said.

“The texture uniqueness analysis we performed provides a more objective artificial intelligence perspective that shows us the parts of the anomaly that have novel textures and warrant further investigation,” Luus said. “As a remote-sensing researcher, every pixel is given its due consideration, and good imagery is invaluable,” he said.

Further study may consider the locations pinpointed by the uniqueness search to find clues about an artifact underlying the anomaly, Luus said.

“We are very excited about the new DigitalGlobe WorldView-3 satellite, which can truly shed some new light on the anomaly with its very high panchromatic and multispectral resolutions,” Luus said. “Imagery of this quality may finally solve the riddle of the Ararat anomaly, or at least become the subject of a very satisfying remote sensing analysis,” he said.

Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. He is former director of research for the National Commission on Space and is co-author of Buzz Aldrin’s new book “Mission to Mars – My Vision for Space Exploration,” published by National Geographic. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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Mysteries

Mysterious Lake Funduji: why you can’t take water from this African lake

Mysterious Lake Funduji: why you can't take water from this African lake 97

In the northeast of the Republic of South Africa is the picturesque, but mysterious and ominous Lake Funduji. The local population considers the lake sacred and tells legends about it.

Despite the problems with fresh water in Africa, the tribes never settled on the banks of the Funduji, did not fish there and did not even replenish the water supplies from this lake.

This is because, according to local legends, it is impossible to take a drop of water from Lake Funduji, and anyone who touches the water, or even more so drinks it, will soon die. Also, people made sacrifices to the mythical monster Funduji to appease him.

The general public learned about Funduji at the beginning of the 20th century, when deposits of chrome ore were found in the vicinity of the lake. When expeditions from Europe began to come to this area, the lake was finally mapped.

Scientists listened to the stories of the locals about the ominous lake and the monster, but in the course of geological research, nothing mystical was found.

Mysterious Lake Funduji: why you can't take water from this African lake 98

In 1955, Professor Henry Burnside and his assistant Thacker decided to check the legend about strange water that cannot be carried away from the lake. Scientists collected water in several containers made of different materials – glass, porcelain and plastic, and walked several kilometers, intending to examine the samples.

But it was not possible to carry out the analysis: in the morning all the containers were empty. Then the scientists decided to return to the lake and take new samples. This time, Burnside dipped his finger into the water and tasted it: the taste of the water was bitter-rotten.

Throughout the day, scientists observed the containers, but no changes occurred, and by morning the vessels were empty again. Burnside intended to go back to the lake and examine water samples on site, but the plans were prevented by a sudden deterioration in his health: the professor was hospitalized, and a week later he died – as it later turned out, from intestinal inflammation.

It would seem that there is evidence of sinister legends, but there is still a scientific explanation for the phenomena of Lake Funduji. In fact, chromium ore deposits are the cause of the anomalies.

Chromium salts are very toxic to humans, and the concentration of chromium in the lake was so high that a couple of drops killed Professor Burnside.

Mysterious Lake Funduji: why you can't take water from this African lake 99

The disappearing water phenomenon is also explained by the high chromium content. At temperatures below 19 degrees Celsius, chromium particles in water crystallize (therefore, the water “disappeared” at night, when it was cooler). In fact, the liquid from the vessel does not go anywhere, but turns into a solid state, scattering along the bottom and walls of the vessel.

To be fair, some of Funduji’s riddles have not yet been solved – for example, it is not clear why a large number of crocodiles live in the poisonous lake. It is also unclear what these reptiles eat, because there are no fish in the lake, and other animals do not go there to drink.

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Mysteries

Descent into the Unknown: Blogger revealed the secret of the mysterious tunnel in the pyramid of Cheops

Descent into the Unknown: Blogger revealed the secret of the mysterious tunnel in the pyramid of Cheops 100

The pyramid of Cheops is one of the seven wonders of the world. This is one of the largest ancient buildings, which contains many secrets. Recently, some experts have been worried about what hides the blocked tunnel near the underground chamber.

Blogger Ben van Kerkwick, who hosts the UnchartedX YouTube channel, managed to get into the tunnel. The video is two hours long and shows the entire journey. Ben was surprised that the tunnel helped to find the descending and ascending passages, although, according to the idea, they cannot be found.

The blogger explored the Cheops pyramid with his team. All passages were covered with granite blocks. The group followed to the Great Gallery, and Ben van Kerkwick – to the underground chamber. 

Archaeologists noted that the mysterious passage crosses the rock on which the base of the pyramid is located. The blogger was struck by the skill of the engineers: the discovered 87-meter passage turned out to be perfectly straight.

The underground camera was incredibly deep. There was a mysterious door there, where it led is still unknown. This confirms the opinion that the structure keeps many secrets.

The pyramid was erected 4.5 thousand years ago for Pharaoh Cheops, who was the ruler of the 4th dynasty.

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Mysteries

A giant pink ball cloud appeared over the site of a meteorite in China

A giant pink ball cloud appeared over the site of a meteorite in China 101

A giant pink ball appeared near the place where a cosmic body fell in China. It arose immediately after the collision of an asteroid with the Earth and a powerful explosion. A giant spherical cloud formed over the meteorite impact site. 

The meteorite fell on December 23 in Qinghai province (PRC). According to eyewitnesses, immediately after the explosion of the fireball, a giant spherical structure appeared over the crash site, which hovered over the Dealing highway.

The strange pink formation hung in the air for about 40 minutes and then evaporated. Locals used various metaphors in their descriptions of the sphere, for example, someone compared this phenomenon with a “bright pink moon”, while others called it “a leisurely round cloud”. Someone remembered that a meteorite had already fallen in China last fall, and then a coronavirus pandemic began around the world. Moreover, its distribution began from the PRC.

The first thing that ufologists-conspiracy theorists immediately start thinking about is the appearance of Nibiru, which is hidden from us almost all the time by chemtrails, but from time to time the wind blows the fog away and strange appearances begin in the sky:

What is noteworthy is that the temporary distance between the meteorite that fell on Tibet on December 23 and this pink object was only 12 hours and the observation sites were relatively close by the standards of China – that is, everything happened somewhere in the northern part of Tibet. Therefore, maybe in the morning not quite a meteorite fell there. 

If it was Nibiru, then its appearance as a separate astronomical object suggests that its trajectory has slightly changed and it will now begin to appear in different places in the Solar system. Something similar is predicted in a number of ancient and not very apocalyptic prophecies of Christian mystics.

Nibiru itself is not directly mentioned there and, perhaps, this fragment was simply removed by the censor at one time, but the prophecies say that before the End of the World “there will be two winters and two summers”. That is, the arrangement of seasons in a year will become quite dense. One of the possible explanations for such strange changes involves the appearance of another star in the solar system. 

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