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Monday, December 3, 2007

Myth Busting Monday - Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure visible from space

I have always thought this one was true; I thought something that extended for 1500 miles would obviously be viewable from space, but I never realized that other structures could be visible as well.
There are several variations on this folkloric statement, and they're all quantifiably false. Astronauts can spot the Great Wall from low-Earth orbit, along with plenty of other things like the Giza pyramids and even airport runways. But they can't see the Wall from the Moon.[source]
Here is quote from astronaut Jay Apt:
We look for the Great Wall of China. Although we can see things as small as airport runways, the Great Wall seems to be made largely of materials that have the same color as the surrounding soil. Despite persistent stories that it can be seen from the moon, the Great Wall is almost invisible from only 180 miles up![soucre]
And for those of you that have heard the variation of this myth that say you can see the Great Wall from the moon, here is quote from Astronaut Alan Bean:
The only thing you can see from the moon is a beautiful sphere, mostly white (clouds), some blue (ocean), patches of yellow (deserts), and every once in a while some green vegetation. No man-made object is visible on this scale. In fact, when first leaving earth's orbit and only a few thousand miles away, no man-made object is visible at that point either.[soucre]
This myth is busted straight from the horse's astronaut's mouth.

What are your thoughts about this myth, let us know in the comments.

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