NASA satellite captures new image of Marree Man, an Australian carving of an ancient human

NASA satellite image shows revitalized Marree Man, a 17-mile carving of an ancient human in the Australian Outback that had almost disappeared due to erosion before it was repaired in 2016

  • A new satellite image from NASA shows a rehabilitated Australian landmark
  • The Marree Man is a carving of an ancient human figure that’s 2.2 miles long and more than 17 miles around its perimeter
  • The carving was first discovered by a bush pilot in 1998
  • Locals began restoring the carving in 2016 after erosion had nearly erased it 

This week, NASA released a new image of the infamous Marree Man, an enormous ‘geoglyph’ in the South Australia that’s puzzled scientists for decades.

The image was taken by the Operational Land Imager satellite, and released by NASA on Sunday as part of its recurring Image of the Day feature.

The Marree Man was first discovered in 1998 by a pilot flying over the arid outback territory north of Adelaide.

A new satellite image from NASA shows a refreshed Marree Man (pictured above) in the Australian Outback, the result of a successful campaign to preserve the mysterious landmark after it was nearly wiped out by erosion

The Man himself is 2.2 miles from head to toe and measures 17 miles around his full perimeter.

The landmark covers such a large space it can only be seen in full from the sky, according to a report from Newsweek. 

The carvings had begun to fade over the years and by 2016 the Marree Man had almost disappeared entirely.

This prompted locals from the nearby town of Marree, after which the landmark was named, began an effort to preserve the carvings.

They used a construction grader to carve the lines back into the ground at a deeper level than before. 

This was intended to minimize wind degradation and to trap water that they hope will eventually cause vegetation to grow in the grooves and turn the Man green.

No one knows who created the Marree Man, nor why, but anyone who can answer that question will be eligible to win a $5,000 cash reward

No one knows who created the Marree Man, nor why, but anyone who can answer that question will be eligible to win a $5,000 cash reward

In the course of restoring the original, the crew also found more than 250 bamboo stakes placed at 30 foot intervals. 

They speculated these bamboo stakes had been used by the original creator as a guide to mark out the first carvings.

Even still, no one knows for certain how the Marree Man was first created nor why.


The creators of the Marree Man remain unknown, but some believe the late South Australian artist Bardius Goldberg is responsible for creating the figure after talking to his friends about the artwork, yet never confirmed it.

The 4km tall geoglyph, which has a perimeter of 28km, is situated on a plateau at Finnis Springs 60km west Marree in South Australia, portrays an Indigenous man wielding a boomerang or throwing stick used for hunting.

The artwork was reportedly discovered on June 26 1998 by a Central Air Services pilot. But the site was closed by the SA Government one month later after Native Title claimants took legal action. In 2012 the case was settled, but the figure faded overtime due to natural causes. 

While it is the second largest geoglyph recorded, its origin remains a mystery. An anonymous press release was sent to media outlets via fax by those believed to have created the figure. They named it ‘Stuart’s Giant’ after the outback explorer John McDouall Stuart.

A plaque with an American flag and Olympic rings was found 5m south of the figure’s nose, believed to be buried by the original creators.

In 1999, a year after the carvings were first discovered, a series of anonymous faxes were sent to local officials, pointing to an area near the Man’s head where a plaque had been left featuring the American flag, Olympic rings and a quote from a book about aboriginal hunting practices.

A number of people from the region have claimed the whole ordeal was engineered by artist Bardius Goldberg, who is said to have admitted responsibility on his deathbed in 2002.

There is currently a $5,000 cash reward for anyone who is able to offer concrete evidence to prove the origin of the carving.