As the war in Ukraine rages on, an investigative team geolocated a Russian cruise missile program from a single group photo.
The missile program has caused untold misery in Ukraine and the group shot, taken in 2013, was sent to investigative website Bellingcat who laboriously geolocated the photo’s location using satellite imagery and various other methods.
The photo, sent anonymously from a burner email account, was said to have been taken at the Russian Ministry of Defense’s Znamenka 19 facility, but the team had to prove it.
“As with all geolocation, the first step is to identify details in the photograph that could be useful,” writes Aric Toler for Bellingcat.
“There are broadly two types of details that we look for when performing this type of task: big-picture details, and micro-details.”
The big picture details tells the team what kind of buildings to look out for on satellite imagery. Whereas the micro-details such as wall patterns, signage, and other small details can confirm the identification.
In this case, the three-sided stairs that leads up to a building entrance that the group is standing on is a feature that could potentially be spotted from satellite images.
Other clues includes a reflection of what appears to be columns in a window behind the photographer’s position.
“Some of the micro-details that we identified for this photo include the intersections of the upper-brick pattern, the lower-brick (with a lighter red color), and the white path along the wall with a gutter drain alongside that may be visible in imagery taken closer to the area,” explains Toler.
“We could not expect to clearly see these details in satellite imagery, unless it was very high-resolution.”
The Bellingcat team painstakingly scanned through every piece of satellite imagery they could find and eventually found a potential match for the three-sided entrance.
But then they hit the geolocation jackpot. The Znamena 19 facility is on Znamenka street in Moscow. By searching through geotagged photos of the street on the Russian social network VK they came across a high-resolution photograph taken by a professional roofer while he was on top of the north wall of the facility; facing the three-sided entrance.
“Going back through our checklist of big-picture and micro-details, almost everything matches, even though this photograph was taken eight years later,” says Toler.
“The number of stairs and their color, the color of the bricks, the presence of the gutter drain, the barred windows, the grey door to the right of the posing group, the white columns, and everything else that is visible are a clear match.”
The team can now confidently confirm the photo’s authenticity which helped Bellingcat and its investigative partners The Insider and Der Speigel in a six-month long investigation to identify the people responsible for Russia’s cruise missile program.
Image credits: All photos courtesy of Bellingcat.
Kendall Jenner And Bad Bunny’s Relationship Timeline Explored
Everyone’s wondering about Kendall Jenner and Bad Bunny’s relationship timeline. Guess what? We have a detailed timeline for you. The...
Everything We Know About Call The Midwife Season 13
Waiting for Call The Midwife season 13? Let’s explore the possibilities and latest updates! Call the Midwife is a well-known...
Everything We Know About ‘Beast Tamer’ Season 2
Beast Tamer is an anime series which based on the light novel series of the same name by Suzu Miyama....
Everything We Know About ‘Bocchi The Rock!’ Season 2
Bocchi The Rock! is a hit 2022 anime, based on the manga of the same name, that won the hearts...
Is ‘Ahiru No Sora’ Season 2 Happening?
Are you also waiting for the Ahiru No Sora season 2? Due to the overwhelming success of its initial season, audiences from all over the world are eagerly...
Everything You Need To Know About ‘Ace Attorney’ Season 3
Ace Attorney Season 3 is on the wish list of everyone. The anime is a famous visual novella adventure video...
Is ‘Midsomer Murders’ Season 24 Happening?
Midsomer Murders has been a year-end tradition for many of us. One of the longest-running British series is a constant...
Everything You Need To Know About ‘The Orville’ Season 4
The famous sci-fi show The Orville had been ruling the heart of its audience, after surviving the move from Fox...
Everything To Know About ‘Cells At Work!’ Season 3
Cells At Work! is a highly addictive anime series, especially due to its cute characters. Are you missing the fun...
Comparing Massage Chair Brands for Your Home Relaxation
Massage chairs have become increasingly popular for their ability to provide relaxation and therapeutic benefits right in the comfort of...