World's Largest Signature Is Useful For Analyzing NASA's Satellite Imagery

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Jimmie Luecke, a cattle farmer in Texas, created the world's biggest signature in the 1990s (Credit: Google Earth)

Texas, the biggest of the contiguous US states, prides itself on being larger than life. Everything, from hairstyles to boot heels to food portions to mascots to convenience stores (the largest one boasts 80 soda fountains), is exaggerated. Hence, it should come as no surprise that the Lone Star State is also home to the largest signature on Earth.

The massive "LUECKE," spelled out with over three miles of trees, with each letter stretching thousands of feet in each direction, was created in the 1990s by Texas cattle rancher Jimmie Luecke. The former state trooper, who made his fortune during the 1980s oil boom, came up with the idea when he needed to clear more of his large swath of land outside the town of Smithville, to accommodate his growing herd.

Instead of indiscriminately razing down the forest, Luecke decided to save a few hundred trees to carve out his name. In addition to being an ego boost, the letters helped divide the farmland and protected the soil from eroding. Over the years, the world's largest signature, which can be clearly seen from the skies, has also become a popular landmark for air travelers flying above eastern Texas, from Houston to Austin.

Determining the spatial resolution of a satellite sensor is important to see the detail it can capture (Credit: NASA.gov)

The humongous geoglyph also serves another important, albeit unexpected, purpose. It helps NASA astronauts determine the quality of their satellite cameras. According to a statement released by the US space agency a few years ago, "By clearing forest so that a pattern would be visible to landing aircraft, a landowner outside Austin, Texas created a target that is also useful for evaluating spatial resolution of astronaut photographs."

For those unfamiliar with the term, spatial resolution refers to the detail, or the size of individual pixels, at which a satellite sensor "sees" the Earth. A digital image with a higher spatial resolution comprises more pixels than a lower spatial resolution image with similar dimensions. The measurement helps determine the quality of the image and allows scientists to ascertain how small the object can be for a satellite system to detect it.

UAE billionaire Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan's massive signature was erased in 2012 (Credit: Google Earth)

Though Luecke was the first to think of this brilliant idea, he was not the only one. In 2005, Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, a billionaire in the United Arab Emirates, carved his name in the sand of Al Futaisi island off Abu Dhabi. The two-mile-long signature was made using connected canals that filled up with water during full tide in the Persian Gulf. However, for reasons unknown, the massive billboard was erased in 2012, leaving Luecke's signature the only one of its kind in the world.

Resources: odditycentral.com, atlasobscura.com, Dailymail.co.uk

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95 Comments
  • booklover316
    booklover316Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 7:48 am
    I didn't say that it was awesome that it had been erased.(follow me if you think it's sad,and reply if you think it's good that it was erased)🌊
    • booklover316
      booklover316Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 7:42 am
      Awesome!😎💥
      • cobrakid
        cobrakidTuesday, March 31, 2020 at 5:35 pm
        Largest as in fatest or as in longest?
        • selenalopez88
          selenalopez88Monday, March 30, 2020 at 9:36 am
          This is super cool since i live near it#texasgirl#gotexan#supercool
          • cobrakid
            cobrakidWednesday, April 1, 2020 at 10:04 am
            Is that supposed to mean `Boo people that don't live in Texas`, because I live in L.A. But I don't think that's what U mean.
          • unifloppy1
            unifloppy1Sunday, March 29, 2020 at 4:18 pm
            that's like sorta cool
            • violett3091
              violett3091Friday, March 27, 2020 at 6:31 pm
              Omg girl😳
              • memelord51
                memelord51Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 7:21 pm
                It's really cool, but... wouldn't that take so long? I just know I couldn't commit to that.
                • fagudyca-158445194203
                  fagudyca-158445194203Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 5:16 pm
                  I'm sorry because I was not able to go to google classroom but I was able to read it.
                  • ellahbb
                    ellahbbWednesday, March 25, 2020 at 11:06 am
                    i dont even know how to pronounce encyclopedia how am i supposed to pronounce that???
                    • fagudyca-158445194203
                      fagudyca-158445194203Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 8:29 am
                      That was a hard name to understand.