Like viewing secretive military bases? Google Maps has long shown the Tonopah Test Range in southwestern Nevada, but didn't update that image for eight years—so two guys bought satellite imagery of the location and questioned Google about the apparent oversight, LiveScience reports. "Why did you allow the coverage of an experimental military base on US soil to lapse on your mapping platform for eight years?" write Brendan Byrne and Dhruve Mehrotra on Motherboard. "Do you have a tacit agreement with the US government to keep this area off of Google Maps?" The old image remained due to lack of interest in the location, says a Google rep, but either way, the story reveals something about photographing US military bases.
First, the two guys: Byrne, a writer, and Mehrotra, an engineer, leased satellite imagery from a company called Apollo Mapping for $1,984. Unable to show it publicly, they hosted an event Thursday called "Internal Use Only" where visitors saw the images if they signed paperwork making them temporary employees of a nonprofit that employs Mehrotra. What they saw? Who knows, but Google has now updated Maps with a 2017 image of the test range. The site itself, roughly 70 miles from Area 51, is used to test various weapons and planes and apparently developed the first US "stealth" aircraft, per Jalopnik. Even Google usually has to buy images of military bases from satellite companies due to airspace restrictions, according to Byrne and Mehrotra. (A secret government airline needed someone to fly to Topoah and Area 51.)