Is this Noah's Ark?
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EXCLUSIVE: Satellite Sleuth
Closes in on Noah's
Images taken by aircraft,
intelligence-gathering satellites and commercial remote-sensing spacecraft
are fueling an intensive study of the intriguing oddity. But whether the
anomaly is some geological quirk of nature, playful shadows, a human-made
structure of some sort, or simply nothing at all—that remains to be
Whatever it is, the anomaly of interest
rests at 15,300 feet (4,663 meters) on the northwest corner of
But at least one man wonders if it could be
the remains of Noah's Ark—a vessel said to have been built to save
people and selected animals from the Great Flood, the 40 days and 40
nights of deluge as detailed in the Book of Genesis.
The Genesis blueprint of the
Identifying the Ararat anomaly has been a
of Porcher Taylor, an associate professor in paralegal studies at the
"I've got new found optimism ... as
far as my continuing push to have the intelligence community declassify
some of the more definitive-type imagery," Taylor told SPACE.com/LiveScience.
He points to a "new and significant development," a
high-resolution image taken by DigitalGlobe's impressive QuickBird
satellite and shown
here publicly for the first time [alternate
version with no annotation].
"I'm calling this my satellite
Making the mountain transparent
"I had no preconceived notions or
agendas when I began this in 1993 as to what I was looking for,"
As for the saga of Noah's
Nevertheless, the anomaly may not be a
ridge line of ice, snow and possibly rock, but an artificial ridge line,
While chiding the intelligence communities
to release more of their closely guarded satellite imagery,
"We've got three new birds that are
going up. I'm using all my clout, rapport and lobbying to, hopefully, have
them at least fly calibration runs over
Will it float?
For example, satellite imagery analyst Rod
Franz of SunTek Media Group/RiteImage, Inc., located in Henderson, Nevada,
has taken a look at imagery provided by Taylor of the Ararat anomaly and
carried out additional
analysis of the area. As director of training for the
firm, Franz sharpened his skills by serving nearly 25 years as a military
intelligence imagery analyst.
For the anomaly assessment, the same
software tools used for studying government and commercial remote sensing
data were employed, Franz told SPACE.com/LiveScience.
Ground distances and scales of the anomaly were determined. That software
also has the ability to adjust brightness, haze, sharpness, contrast and
other factors of the area of interest, he said.
"Along with many other image
manipulation functions ... I also used the pseudo-color function trying to
determine if I could detect anything under the ice and snow," Franz
The face of the anomaly measured 1,015 feet
(309 meters) across, Franz said. "I also found the shape of the
anomaly appears to fit on a circle. I am not sure what this means, if
anything, but I find it curious."
Given that length,
There are also experts in remote sensing
who offer a skeptical view. "Image interpretation is an
art," said Farouk El-Baz, Director of the
"One has to be familiar with Sun
lighting effects on the shape of observed features," El-Baz said.
"Very slight changes in slope modify shadow shapes that affect the
interpretations. Up to this time, all the images I have seen can be
interpreted as natural landforms. The feature that has been interpreted as
the 'Ararat Anomaly' is to me a ledge of rock in partial shadow, with
varied thickness of snow and ice cover.
Visual truth serum
Thanks to more satellite imagery in the
offing, as well as other studies underway,
There is an ultimate end-game. That is,
on-the-spot ground truth ... and
But for now, satellite remote sensing to
carry out archeological "digs" from space will fill in for an
Just a few weeks ago, for example,
"For explorers, imagery from GeoEye's
Ikonos satellite married with Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite
data has become as indispensable as water and freeze dried food for any
expedition. One does not want to leave home without it," said Mark
Brender, GeoEye Vice President for communications and marketing,
For researchers, imagery from space like
those provided by GeoEye provides "the ultimate high shot" and a
contextual view you could never get from observations on the ground or
even from a plane, Brender told SPACE.com/LiveScience.
"It's visual truth serum."