Checking Nonproliferation From Above

Ready for a little vacation? How about the forests of Myanmar, the North Korean seashore, or delightful Novaya Zemlya before the sun sets this fall?

Probably not, you say. All right, then how about searching for hidden treasures?

Geo4Nonpro has detailed satellite photos of all those sites and more, for your perusal. They are part of an experiment to see if crowdsourcing can determine what is going on at those sites, all of which may have big things happening.

About fifty experts (I’m one) have been asked to mark features on those photos. You can go to the site without signing in and see what’s been done. Click the “information” box to read what those experts think the features are. Descriptions of the sites (under the “Help” menu) suggest what kind of activity to look for.

The photos are extremely detailed; you can see people and cars on some. They are expensive and more current than Google Earth. Each photo has its date on it. The photos can be slow to load – that’s a price of extreme detail.

I find examining the photos very relaxing. Okay, there’s an adit (drops pin). Now let’s see where this road goes… I can spend an hour looking and hardly notice time going by. I’ve been looking at overhead photos for quite some time now, though. It can be hard to figure out what some of the stuff is. So having some features identified is helpful for non-experts. Take a look – you can even see a statue on one North Korean photo. The Novaya Zemlya photos take some getting used to.

If you have some experience interpreting overhead photos, you can apply for expert status.

It’s an interesting experiment. Kudos to the Middlebury Institute at Monterey for trying it. They say that more Novaya Zemlya photos should be posted soon.


Top Graphic: Screengrab of the launch pad at Shahrud, Iran, with Geo4Nonpro information box.

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