NPR logo What On Earth? Art And Ads That Can Be Seen From Space

Daily Picture Show

What On Earth? Art And Ads That Can Be Seen From Space

Drive out to the middle of the desert in Rachel, Nev., and you'll find a patch of sand that has been tiled with about 65,000 squares of red, black, white and gray. It may not look like much from where you're standing, but step off the Earth's surface a few thousand feet and you'll see this:

With advertisements plastered on any surface one can imagine, is the surface of the Earth the next frontier for marketers?

KFC claims in a press release that their giant portrait of Colonel Sanders, built in 2006, is "the world's first brand visible from outer space." But, as Alex and James Turnbull of the blog Google Sightseeing point out, the oldest "astrovertisement" is actually a Readymix logo that was carved into the Australian desert in 1965.

The Turnbull brothers started Google Sightseeing (which is not officially affiliated with Google) in 2005, shortly after Google Maps was launched. In an e-mail, Alex writes that they started the blog, "as a place we could share the amazing things we were finding." The site receives many submissions from readers who turn up all sorts of discoveries in their satellite explorations.

"New things are discovered all the time!" writes Alex, "From advertising stunts, to new meteor impact craters, to whole hidden military installations."

Google Maps is not updated in real time, so some older artifacts are represented that may no longer exist, while recently updated patches of the map may reveal new pieces of art or advertisement. Have you spent much time searching the Earth's surface? What have you found?