Did NASA calibrate the satellite cameras using the farmer’s name registered on the ground?
In the 1990s, a Texas farmer named Jimmie Luecke cleared miles of brush on his land to spell his last name in letters so large they can be seen in satellite photos. And because the word has been carved so meticulously, scientists at NASA used the large linear letters to calibrate satellite cameras aboard space shuttles.
The iterations of the “Leucke” signature, observable in space, have been around the internet for almost two decades. This statement is true, but since the event was first reported in 2002, we classify it as “obsolete”.
In a NASA blog post Written in 2011, Robert Simmon, a data visualizer and information designer, described his surprise to find the letters “miles away” that spelled “Luecke” near Austin, Texas. Simmon noted that while the letters may “have simply been a curiosity to visiting pilots and astronauts,” scientists at the Johnson Space Center used the letters to estimate the maximum resolution of cameras on board the space shuttle. The aerial photographs were taken at the Leucke Ranch, about six miles north of the town of Smithville in eastern Texas. Research on the Google maps Satellite view in May 2021 revealed that the all-capital letters – which spanned more than three miles in length – were still visible from space.
A study published in the International Journal of Remote Sensing in 2002 noted that the letters “Leucke” served as a test pattern to estimate spatial resolution, which is described as the level of detail that a satellite sensor “sees” the Earth, or the size of its individual pixels on the surface of the Earth, according to NASA.
“We also did an empirical estimate of the spatial resolution for the low contrast vegetation boundaries. By clearing the forest so that a pattern was visible to landing aircraft, a landowner outside of Austin, Texas created a target that is also useful in assessing the spatial resolution of photographs of astronauts, ”the space scientists wrote at the time. “The forest was selectively cleared to spell out the landowner’s name ‘LUECKE’ with the remaining trees.
According to the local surveyors who planned the clearance, the plan was to create letters measuring 3,100 feet by 1,700 feet. The letters were photographed by a space shuttle at an altitude of 337 miles with a 250 millimeter lens. Each individual pixel represented an area between 88 and 104 feet. (You can explore the farm in more detail by clicking on this Google Earth link.)
Conde Nast Traveler reported in 2016, local landowner Jimmie Luecke bulldozed the brush on his land in the 1990s and left behind his earthly namesake and “the world’s greatest signature,” which stands right along the main roads. flight out of Houston. Atlas Obscura Noted that geoglyphs could serve an agricultural purpose known as alley cropping, which uses strips of trees to divide plots of farmland, according to the US Department of Agriculture. As the name suggests, alley cultivation plants rows of trees or shrubs to create alleys between different agricultural crops.