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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 April, 2005, 07:36 GMT 08:36 UK
Great Wall visible in space photo
By Francis Markus
BBC News, Shanghai

China's Great Wall
The Great Wall of China is not the only edifice visible from space
A photograph taken from space appears to confirm that China's Great Wall can be seen with the naked eye after all.

China's schoolchildren have long been taught that the ancient fortification is one of the few man-made structures that can be picked out from orbit.

However, last year, China's first man in space disappointed the nation when he said he had failed to spot it.

Now, an official newspaper has run a picture taken by a Chinese-American astronaut showing the wall.

Leroy Chiao took what the state-run China Daily newspaper says is the first photographic evidence using commercially available equipment.

It will allow education officials to breathe more easily, after fretting over whether to change the school textbooks.

Blunted pride

In the picture, which is plastered over the front page, the wall is highlighted in orange to distinguish it from a nearby road and railway.

Astronaut Leroy Chiao (bottom right)
Leroy Chiao (bottom right) took the photos from the space station
The picture sent back by Mr Chiao, who is currently aboard the International Space Station, was authenticated by a leading Chinese expert.

This is just as well, because the astronaut, being interviewed by satellite and e-mail, said he himself was not actually sure he had really captured the wall.

He is going to try to snap it again when he next passes over China but he will have to be quick because he is orbiting at a speed of 8km (five miles) a second.

China's pride may be a bit blunted, because lots of other things such as Egypt's pyramids and even various airports can be seen, too.

But it can take some comfort in the fact that this apparent breakthrough was at least made by an astronaut of Chinese descent.

China ends Great Wall space myth
12 Mar 04 |  Asia-Pacific
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04 Feb 04 |  Asia-Pacific
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30 Jul 03 |  Asia-Pacific
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09 Oct 02 |  Asia-Pacific
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22 Feb 01 |  Asia-Pacific

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