Google Earth community members have spotted a strange installation by the remote Chinese village of Huangyangtan. A 800x700 meter scale model of a mountainous landscape has been created right next to a military base.


(Chinese military base at Huangyangtan
)

It turns out that this scale model corresponds to a 450x350 kilometer piece of real estate located in a disputed area along the Chinese/Indian border. The Indian authorities call this area Aksayqin Hu, not far from K2, the second-highest mountain on Earth, in the Himalayan range.


(Detail from model [above] compared with
Google Earth image of disputed border territory [below]
)

It is speculated that this scale model is being used by Chinese military planners. If you want to train pilots to work in a particular area that is off-limits, create a model that allows them to practice.

NASA used exactly the same technique in the 1960's to train the pilots-turned-astronauts who were to land on the moon.

Once the probable landing site in the Sea of Tranquility was selected, NASA geologists went to the volcanic mountain range in Arizona. There, they carefully measured the locations of each crater, and used explosives to create an exact scale model of the landing area.


(Compare the model in the lava field [above]
with the pictures taken from lunar orbit [below]
From The BBC Presents The Planets)

Astronauts first walked the site, then flew over the site at a few hundred feet in a small Cessna. Finally, they overflew the site in a T-38 jet at 25,000 feet to simulate what can be seen from lunar orbit (at matching speed).

Other unusual NASA-related news:

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction.)