Strange colossal shapes dot the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, x-shaped relics of a once top-secret Cold War spying project. Known as the Corona program, the surveillance initiative by the CIA and US Air Force involved using satellites to take aerial photographs of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. The cameras on these satellites were calibrated with concrete crosses 60 feet in diameter. Their exposed 70mm film was later jettisoned in space, the parachuting capsules caught in mid-air by plane. The calibration markers helped assure that the film was in focus, and that there was a landscape measure to accurately assess the size of pictured objects.
Approximately 256 of these markers were placed on a 16-square-mile grid in Arizona, spaced a mile apart. Long after Corona’s end and its declassification in 1995, around 100 remain. Phoenix-based artists Julie Anand and Damon Sauer have spent three years tracking them down for a project called Ground Truth: Corona Landmarks.
“We were intrigued to discover that there was this massive system located in our backyards that was part of a historically significant program in the development of satellite technology,” the artists told Hyperallergic. “And we were attracted to the idea that these markers of space had become markers of time — a poignant geopolitical moment in the human desire to see from above.”
Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.