The Closest Satellite Image of Earth?

Closest Satellite Image to the Earth

Is the closest satellite image to the earth on Google Maps rural Chad? On June 12th reported that the satellite coordinates 15.298499 19.429727 reveal the closest satellite image to the earth available in Google Maps. This location appears to be near the western border of Batha province and Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti province. Neither Google Maps nor any of the maps in the Chad NOW archive reveal a habitation in the area, although one old French political map shows a small, spring-fed river in the area. The closest cities to this mysterious location are Bourkia and Nedeley, both of which are at least 80 miles away.

Whether or not this scene from rural Chad is the closest satellite image on Google Maps, it certainly is one of the most mysterious. The area of high resolution is an approximately 130 X 200 ft rectangle, and the areas surrounding are only viewable at a much lower resolution. An area just southwest of 15.298499 19.429727 has no satellite imagery whatsoever until you zoom out to the 500 ft level. This mysterious location in rural central Chad, on the other hand, can be viewed with good resolution at five feet from the ground, apparently Google Maps' closest zoom setting.

dSo what's in the world's closest satellite image? 94 camels, 37 cows, 5 donkeys, 16 people, and a handful of goats. A close zoom in Google Maps also reveals several watering holes (for both people and livestock), rope, firepits, tools, and some other objects too difficult to discern. A closer look at the people in this satellite image reveal at least one child and two women, one of whom is wearing a purple niqab and is perched atop a camel. But what's most interesting about this scene is not what the people look like, but where they are looking. Seven of the sixteen individuals are looking up. Since satellites don't make noise, this suggests that this picture isn't a satellite image at all. It was most likely taken by a plane.

Read the article about the closest satellite image to earth.

Special thanks to Zach Farhood of The University of Texas at Austin.