In addition to its paved runways, Edwards AFB in California has several runways on the bed of Rogers Dry Lake, famously used in the past for (among other things) Space Shuttle landings. Satellite imagery shows these runways marked with a very high-contrast black-looking material. One can also spot vehicle tracks around the markings. There are also other interesting markings on the dry lake bed using what looks like the same material, such as a distance scale and a compass rose.

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What material or method is used to make these markings? How are the markings maintained, as I imagine natural weathering would quickly cover up such markings?

  • $\begingroup$ A gigantic Sharpie™! (honestly, the first thing that popped into my head when I looked at that writing.) $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 11:57

2 Answers 2


They use oil, specifically SSH1 which is environmentally friendly. This oil replaces the tar that used to be used.

Source: Rebecca Amber, Can you see me now? Lakebeds 'restriped', Edwards Air Force Base, July 14, 2015.

  • $\begingroup$ Product sheet: staging.themartincompanies.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/… $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 13, 2023 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ Jim, is it SSH1 as Edwards' communications people state or is it SS-1h (slow setting emulsion #1, hard) as the manufacturer's own product sheet says? My money is on the manufacturer . . . . $\endgroup$
    – MTA
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 20:30

The oil is sprayed on by tankers tanker lorry with spraying apparatus, black oil spraying out onto sand

Sourced from: https://www.edwards.af.mil/News/Photos/igphoto/2001259081/


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