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Is the Great Wall of China Visible From Space

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Is the Great Wall of China Visible From Space?
Expedition 10 photo showing Great Wall of China

Expedition 10 photo showing Great Wall of China

NASA
Even the game, Trivial Pursuit claims that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible by NASA astronauts from space or from the moon with the naked eye. It's a space urban legend. While many man-made objects are visible, the Great Wall of China generally isn't, at least to the unaided eye in low Earth orbit. It certainly isn't visible from the Moon.

The visible wall theory was tarnished in 2004 with the launch of Chinese Cosmonaut, Yang Liwei. According to the Associated Press, "For decades, the Chinese propagated the myth that their most famous creation was visible from space. Elementary-school textbooks in the world's most populous nation still proclaim that the structure can be seen by the naked eye of an orbiting cosmonaut." Yang Liwei, said he couldn’t see the historic structure. There was even talk about rewriting textbooks that espouse the theory, a formidable task in the Earth’s most populous nation.

The idea popped up again when astronaut Leroy Chiao pointed his camera at the Earth from International Space Station. Images taken of Inner Mongolia about 200 miles north of Beijing were determined to show small sections of the wall.

The photos, taken with a digital camera and a 180mm lens, and later with a 400mm lens, were greeted with relief and rejoicing by the Chinese. Chiao himself said he didn't see the wall, and wasn't sure if the picture showed it.

This photo of central Inner Mongolia, about 200 miles north of Beijing, was taken on Nov. 24, 2004, from the International Space Station. The yellow arrow points to an estimated location of 42.5N 117.4E where the wall is visible. The red arrows point to other visible sections of the wall.

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