What is that mystery object on Google Moon?

A recent story on the Daily Mail claims to have found a “craft” on Google Moon.  While you certainly should take anything from that site with a grain of salt, it’s indeed an interesting image:


So what could the image be?  The “object” is likely to be a visual anomaly possibly caused by light from the sun cast on rocks that happen to appear regular at certain angles, and also a function of the resolution of the imagery.  There have been similar sightings in the past, such as the famous “face on Mars” from years ago, which also turned out to be a trick due to resolution of imagery, processing, and lighting.

You can check it out for yourself by loading this KML file.  Be sure to enable the “featured satellite images” layer in Google Moon in order to see this particular image.

What do you think it might be?

(via Daily Mail)

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. This sharper bit of imagery is only visible if you have the “Featured Satellite Images” layer checked. If you scan around and zoom in on many high contrast transitional areas like crater rims, you will see many anomalies. They show as light pixels against the dark shadows of the craters. Like the other light pixels this “object” is an anomaly caused by the imagery process and wishful thinking.

    • Descentburn10 says

      And you have seen these right? Well, give us examples so we may discern what is a pixel anomaly and what is not. Post away.

      • “Specifically, this seems to be a case of a combination of bad pixels and somebody being too happy with the zoom key. It turns out that the triangle shape is actually a group of transparent pixels that were corrupt. Adjusting the contrast/sunlight over the lunar surface changes the background/backdrop of the picture (making it lighter or darker) and that change bleeds through this transparency. If you zoomed out, you’ll see the same type of artifact appearing all over the lunar surface. In fact, as a proof of concept, if you put a colored shape behind the image, you’ll see the triangle (and, its buddies) change colors. Or, maybe we just have an army of purple alien spaceships ready to invade”

        In other words, STOP, just STOP. There was no pyramid on Mars, no sphinx, no man in the moon. Life is almost certain to exist elsewhere in the cosmos, but it sure as hell is NOT currently residing on the moon. Why in the hell would a species capable of covering unimaginable distances want to build anything on our moon?! We would be the intellectual equivalent of ants to them.

        • And you know that because of… ?

        • Intelligent life might be escavating the moon for materials to use on their ships and planets. That’s why they might be interested in our moon. There are so many possibilities in our universe.

  2. Even if this or some other mystery object or signal turns out to be real, isn’t it about time to stop the hysteria? Considering the fast-growing number planets found around neighboring stars, we should stop acting amazed at possible evidence. Prove it or stow it. Don’t put out fuzzy photographic evidence for your own aggrandizement. You’re not helping. Thanks.

  3. The lighting shows that the overall structure is a crater, so its an absence rather than an object. The 7 white dots in a ‘>’ shape are an artifact of image processing.
    See also:

  4. rocketwoman says

    If I were going to park my ship in a way that left lots of questions, but some possibilities, I would put that wedge-shaped object in a crater, with my lights on the side catching the sun, and then watch earthling egos do their thing.

  5. Heimdallen says

    First, I disagree with immediately jumping to the conclusion that it is simply an optical illusion, a trick of light and shadow. While it’s certainly a possibility, the only way to PROVE that is with more photos from other angles and with the source of light coming from a different angle other than it’s current position, as well. Also, all of the many really neat photos I’ve seen like that, such as the “face” on Mars for one, as a famous example, or even rocks and trees out in the woods that appear to be an intelligently designed and intentionally carved recognizable feature, all of these things are indeed very deceptive but also quite simple in their “design”. This appears far too perfect and detailed to simply be a case of this type of mistaken identity. While it’s certainly a possible explanation, it seems improbable to me, making it pretty unlikely.

    However, jumping to the conclusion that it’s an intelligently designed base or spaceship of some sort, either by us or another civilization from elsewhere in the cosmos, is also a premature assumption. If it is built by some country from Earth or elsewhere, it does make you wonder why it’s not on the dark side always facing away from us, or camouflaged in some way since as of yet no one has claimed responsibility and I imagine would want to have kept it’s existence a secret.

    And while I agree that with evidence piling up every day of what we already nearly certain of, that at least our galaxy and almost surely the whole universe, is full of planetary systems around all kinds of stars, it is high time to change our general attitude (at least those who haven’t changed theirs yet) about the fact that the universe is probably teeming with life and that there’s bound to be highly evolved, intelligent beings sprinkled among the life bearing planets. There is indeed no need to be “hysterical”, as another author mentioned. However, I disagree that releasing photos like this isn’t helping. Until proven otherwise, no matter how unlikely it seems, we need to consider that this could potentially be the first photo of the moon with something placed on it by someone other than ourselves.

    I’m not some loon who jumps on any and every unknown photo or video and immediately assumes it’s proof of aliens, but until unexplained photos like this are debunked with the true explanation, they are all potentially the proof we’ve been searching for.

    The end of it is we don’t know anything for sure yet…we don’t know if the photo was doctored by someone at Google, with out without permission from the company, we don’t know if it’s the most amazing trick of light and shadow ever seen with the precision alignment and appearance of the 7 dots, we don’t know if it’s a ship that was there and isn’t now, or some building put there secretly by humans or an extra- terrestrial race. We don’t know anything other than there’s something that needs to be looked into and independently verified as even existing at all. This could be a world changing event, or just a hoax, or somewhere in between. No matter which though, I eagerly await finding out more.

  6. Henry Bowman says

    I find it interesting that main stream media has ignored all area of this story for 3 days, not even taking time to tell us at 3am how silly we all are. I also find it odd that no one is addressing the three Orion rockets launched on the 15th from Virgina by the DOD towards the moon. These were launched with no warning, not scheduled and 100% blacked out from the normal info feeds. Add the fact that China has men on the moon right now. Normally this type of internet story would have been debunked by now. I know all about compression artifacts, and if these were digital “ghosts” you would have seen them stated as such yesterday. Instead, more and more news outlets have picked it up, and are saying there is an object on the moon. Even the Catholic Vatican news site is running this, yet not a peep on ABC, NBC, CBS. The news week is slow, they are all over Justin Bieber, they would have mentioned it, even to dismiss it. There is a very good reason this isn’t gaining traction, i hope for once we find out what it is. If there is an object on the moon, that’s a game changer kids. Wake up!!!

    • Jesus people… really??? Governments all over the world launch rockets into orbit/suborbit and don’t have newsfeeds about it… the whole article about this being some alien crafts or whatever is just hogwash.

      First off it’s a poor image, secondly no one cites real sources with concrete information, and anyone that’s never used an image processing program, like Photoshop will want to tell you it’s a cover-up.

      These are visual artifacts that occur when you take all the various satellite’s pictures, put them all together like a giant puzzle to make a gigantic image, like THIS: http://wms.lroc.asu.edu/lroc_browse/view/M130653607

      It is not ONE single photograph people. It’s a conglomeration of 100’s if not 1000’s of photos that have been stitched together… THAT is where the artifacting occurs.

      So, this whole China Moon Launch “no coincidence thing”… people… it’s been in the works way before these “mysterious objects near Mars” and the “alien Moonbase” ever happened…

      Please don’t take what people post “WITHOUT SOURCES” as fact… especially questionable sites such as Daily Mail or Shiftfrequency… might as well start wearing a tinfoil hat… 🙁

  7. Austin Epps says

    It looks like it’s the terrain map clipping through the patch from the Kaguya visible layer. If you turn on “colorized terrain” you’ll see all the abnormal pixels become colorized like the terrain map below.

    The ability to turn off terrain has been disabled in the free client, but in the pro client I think you can. With no terrain I bet the artifact disappears.

  8. If this article is Legit, they have been tracking the object for the last 2 years, before it even reached the moon.. http://turnerradionetwork.com/news/206-visually-confirmed-enormous-craft-detected-on-moon

  9. Richard Hoagland and others have made a very good case for the geometry of the face on mars and surrounding pyramids and structures and their own relativity to similar structures on Earth and anomalies on other planets in the solar system. I don’t see how one who has closely examined the data there can so easily and off handedly dismiss it.

    With this moon anomaly, surely there must be other previous imagery available of this same location? With so much symmetry and non prevalence of other digital artifacts, how can one so easily dismiss this?

    Seems equally as ignorant to conclude it is not anything physically there than the thought that it might be. It does make the know-it-alls quite uncomfortable to let it go unanswered. Easier to dismiss a mystery, gloss over and return to the mundane.

    • Answers as to what precisely it is that is causing this graphical glitch has already been covered several times up top. So, I don’t think we “dismissing” anything… it’s a reproducible issue, therefore there’s no space for conjecture, hearsay, wannabeism, or mystery. it is what it is… like you said, a graphical anomaly.

  10. While I agree that this is nothing more than a resolution issue and not little green people, it leads me to wonder what would constitute an object that the entire community would agree upon as unidentified.

  11. According to Google, the images that make up the moon mosaic come from the Clementine mission launched in 1994. The curious thing about the Mare Moscoviense quadrant is that it is (1) on the far side of the Moon, and (2) is the the most highly detailed in terms of resolution and contrast of all the imagery used to build the map. I agree with the analysis that the seven pixels are nothing more than digital artifacts and not an artificial object. I did a brief survey of the vicinity and turned up a similar “object” with just five ‘lights’ when you get down to the sub-2 km above the surface resolution. Still, the highly detailed nature of this particular mare puzzles me. Anyone have an explanation?

    • Austin Epps says

      That patch near Mare Moscoviense is from the Kaguya Terran Camera which is about 10m resolution. Some of the patches near the Apollo landing sites (and other regions of interest) are mosaics from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), specifically the Narrow Angle Camera, at about 1m resolution. Google Moon also has some 1960s Lunar Orbiter program photography in other areas at resolutions ranging from ~1m to ~40m.

      For the best resolution and coverage, the whole LROC dataset (so far) is available from Arizona State University at http://wms.lroc.asu.edu/lroc

  12. This virtual moon exploration can become addictive. I found what appears to be a lunar surface track line running some 60 miles to the north and east of the Apollo 15 landing sight. It doesn’t appear to be an artifact of stitching but resembles similar tracks across the deserts of the American southwest. It is clearly visible once you get down below the 15 km altitude level. Lunar co-ordinates are Lat: 23°15’58.92″N, Lon: 6° 1’42.05″E.

  13. My comment echoes Heimdallen, whose remarks are balanced and probably the most reasonable. We just don’t know — either way — about extraterrestrial life, or alien civilizations, elsewhere in the Milky Way or beyond. Both almost certainly exist. Just as there is almost certainly microbial life just under the surface of Mars. Has any extraterrestrial intelligence troubled to journey all the out to our lonely planet? If other civilizations exist, some of them have progressed farther than we have and are therefore aware of our biosphere and the effects upon it by our technosphere. Why come all the way out to visit? One answer is: ‘Would we?’ and, of course, we would. The chances of a visit perhaps are not as remote as we once thought. If in the not-so-distant future WE should choose to closely observe a place like Earth, an ideal place to establish a base would be on the farside of the Moon. So: it’s possible.

    It’s also possible that it IS a glitch. Mare Muscoviense, on the other hand, is one of the more closely observed areas on the farside; there’s more data available on it and therefore less chance of error. This is definitely intriguing and obviously worthy of more study.

    Anyone remember ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’? The base for extraterrestrial contact located at Devil’s Tower? They called it the Dark Side of the Moon.

    • desmond says

      Interesting forum,I found something similar at coordinatas N 24° 22′ 34,87 — E 146° 21′ 23,46 ( zoom at least 3-6 km altitude ) in google moon; the only difference its that the 5 lights aren’t in V shape but messy ordered. i tried to do a comparison of the same coordinates above with the chinese moon map 0:8080/CE2release/cesMain.jsp , but the resolution is worst. In general if you seek in the mare moscoviense zone seems to be a lots of these glitch or regular shape or lights , especiallly inside the craters or close to the edge. That makes me think that whethever it’s, have to be something widespread in the far side. according to me this it’s about structures higher than the ground, leaning out the craters and coming to the sunlight. It’s not natural that something like that come’s out from the middle of the crater. Please reply, If anyone see my coordinates let me know what u think.

  14. See LAT: 44°14’54.55″S LONG: 156°13’11.99″E

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.