Do you know what causes artifacts like this one?

enter image description here

Source: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=embelgasse+wien&aq=&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=60.894251,93.251953&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Embelgasse,+Margareten+1050+Wien,+Austria&t=h&ll=48.187123,16.348997&spn=0.001849,0.004667&z=18


Perhaps it is glass roofs and the angle of the sun at the time of the capture.

Bing Maps [Satellite] is okay http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&where1=48.187141%2C%2016.349561&q=48.187141%2C16.349561&cp=48.18694871145921~16.349901334904583&lvl=18&encType=1

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    It does sort of look like a lens flare. Weird that it would "eat" the image though; it's almost as if part of it was physically cut out. – Michael Todd Feb 28 '11 at 18:30
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    I also thought of lens flare, especially because of the white diagonal. But I'm not sure that explains the totally white area on the lower side. – underdark Feb 28 '11 at 18:35
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    Looks photoshoped for reason though what that reason is unknown. If the ortho-rectification was done in stereo the glare might have been block out on purpose photogrammetrydevelopment.blogspot.com/2011/01/… – Mapperz Feb 28 '11 at 18:40
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    The stars are not lens flare: they are likely Fraunhofer diffraction. See photo.stackexchange.com/q/6605/1356 . That they occur at six angles suggests a hexagonal camera diaphragm; that some occur in parallel rows suggests multiple (three?) bright lights are involved. That they are white rules out a laser; this has to be a direct solar reflection from good mirrors. The directions of the shadows and of the buildings suggests the sun is almost directly behind the sensor: the mirrors point right at us (and the sun). But the presence of the empty patch and the rainbow patch are a mystery. – whuber Feb 28 '11 at 19:34
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    @mankoff Interesting idea. Initially it seems the sensor motion would show as a uniformly displaced "rainbow", whereas these patches exhibit no such pattern. Also, the phenomenon is not associated with sensor motion, but with object motion relative to the ground. Perhaps the sensor's motion created an apparent, complex motion of the sun's reflection off a bright ground-based object that is not perfectly flat. – whuber Mar 1 '11 at 21:46

I think many of these artifacts might be caused by solar energy collection mechanisms. Even photovoltaic cells reflect some sunlight. I say that because I've noticed that when one of these artifacts is present it's likely there's more in the vicinity.

Take a look at the city Gaziantep in Google Maps.

You'll notice there's a high clustering of these artifacts there. This suggests that there's a regularity to their positioning, and what reflective surface do you know of that follows the angle of the sun?


I found this while looking at my grandparents house on Google maps, similar to the one in this post. It's a small storage house and I think it has a metal roof, although the barn has a metal roof and didn't look the same. .enter image description here


A mirror (or highly reflective surface) reflecting sunlight directly back into the lens. Like we used to do in school when we would deflect a beam, of sunlight into another kids eye in class to distract them. That is the prisming effect you see. This is the most likely culprit.

enter image description here

protected by PolyGeo Aug 23 at 23:17

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