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I'm a supervillain. I have no name, but you can rest assured my intentions are dubious and always result in general harm.

My biggest problem these days are these pesky superheroes keep finding my lairs and destroying them. Now I may be rich, but these places are expensive, and I hate having to constantly move. After relentlessly spying on my enemies, I've finally found it. They're finding me using satellite imaging by following me from my last location. The struggle of being a danger to the government in 21st century Earth I guess...

I've found a new place to build the perfect Mt. Doom, but being the best place I've ever seen for a lair, I still have my little issue.

My island is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and is a 3 mile circle of island and beach with a dormant volcano on the northern side of it. I have no budget constraints for this, and my lair needs to be at least a mile in diameter, with the requirement of housing minions and equipment for future bids for world domination. Building underground isn't an option, for personal (cough plot cough) reasons, but otherwise I'm pretty open. So with all that said;

How can I hide my entire island from the prying eyes of satellite surveillance?

Bonus points if you can help me hide visually to those on patrol as well!

I have no idea what to tag this either...

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    $\begingroup$ Does "no budget" mean "no money" or "unlimited money"? $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook Apr 20 '17 at 1:18
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    $\begingroup$ "I have no name" -- Based on your signature, I'd say it's "Anoplexian". $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 20 '17 at 13:03
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    $\begingroup$ @PeregrineRook Unlimited. $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian Apr 20 '17 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ Whatever you do, don't fill the waters around the island with sharks with frickin' laser beams. You might think it would increase security, but it's a dead giveaway to those darned superheroes. -- A concerned colleague $\endgroup$ – Steve-O Apr 20 '17 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre He must be asking it "for a friend" $\endgroup$ – Jasper Apr 21 '17 at 13:15

13 Answers 13

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Announce that you are building a resort.

Put up a website. Make it look nice. Don't take reservations.

enter image description here

Make people think its real

Hire some (doltish but good looking) celebrities to come vacation there. This is actually common behavior for resorts. Tell the celebrities you cleared out the place so they can enjoy it in peace, by themselves. Keep the celebrities away from the buildings that glow at night. Make sure some of your minions can mix drinks. Sell the pictures to People magazine (side income!). If it looks like a resort in a supermarket checkout aisle, then everyone will think it is a resort.

Store doomsday device in outbuildings

enter image description here

There's lots of buildings in the resort. But its so exclusive and private no one knows who is in all those other buildings. This is where the sharks with lasers attached to their heads get stored.

Let the minions hit the beach

As long as no celebrities are there, let the minions hit the beach once in a while. Hire attractive minions. This seems like a good super villain plan, anyways. The general activity of people walking around will make the resort look more legit, and increased minion morale will help when you have to feed some to the laser-sharks.

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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like the game Evil Genius. store.steampowered.com/app/3720? $\endgroup$ – Mormacil Apr 20 '17 at 13:01
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    $\begingroup$ Also make sure it got a good night lights, most super heros dectetives can bust your fake resort but are rarely out of a noir environment $\endgroup$ – jean Apr 20 '17 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ This is a great plan, as long as there aren't any superheroes that also happen to be rich celebrities (cough Bruce Wayne cough Toy Stark cough), if there are, and they visit, you just know they're somehow gonna stumble into some secret plan... $\endgroup$ – neminem Apr 21 '17 at 22:34
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    $\begingroup$ @neminem Oooo, critical flaw, I didn't think about that. I suppose that's always the way it goes with super villains though. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Apr 21 '17 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ "Hire attractive minions." Suddenly half a decade worth of dashing, smart minions make sense -- every supervillain is using this plan! $\endgroup$ – Finn O'leary Apr 22 '17 at 20:56
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Plain sight

If your lair must be above ground, then the problem is that you need to stop trying to hide it. Build the lair in plain sight as part of a larger complex so when they look at the satellite images they see what they expect. Sure, if you build a lair on a deserted island, they'll notice immediately. So make the island not deserted. Build a factory, resort, or theme park on top of it. It doesn't really matter which, except as a justification for whatever you put in the lair.

Of course, now you have the problem of people wandering all over your secret lair, which may lead to its own problems.

It sounds like you have an affection for a certain kind of lair. Have you considered that having one lair with all your minions may be part of the problem? Get your own lair and order your minions around remotely. They can have multiple lairs. Lose one and you still have the rest. And moving inconveniences the minions, not you.

You can live in your mansion under a false name as a reclusive billionaire (or whatever). You could even sponsor some anti-criminal activity and leave hints that you are a hero so that the real heroes leave you alone. Meanwhile, your minions run out of their smaller, less expensive lairs. This will also save you a bunch on travel costs. Your minions can stay much closer to their crimes. When they make an especially big score, close up shop and move their lair.

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The problem of a lair on an island is, unless the island is Britain-sized, you're going to sent all the materials there for the building. Even if you had an island-sized invisibility cloak, Harry Potter's style, and cover your island with it, you would still be found just by tracking all that maritime traffic going there.

My suggestion:

Mobile island

Since you only need a 3 mile wide island and you don't want a subterranean lair, just build it up from floating containers and vessels, and move it around all the time on a random pattern. Satellites only pass over a location several times a day, and photographs are analyzed some time after. By the time they have seen you, you're not there anymore.

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    $\begingroup$ Don't forget to add a smoke monster. $\endgroup$ – Bradley Uffner Apr 21 '17 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ Bonus: use your smoke monster to make cloud-like things when satellites are near. It will just look like mist, and mist usually moves... doesn't it? transmission lost $\endgroup$ – wizzwizz4 Apr 23 '17 at 15:16
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Not going underground or into the mountain makes it harder. Not impossible but it will make one thing pretty hard, heat management. That will likely be your biggest issue. You need to appear as a normal thermal footprint on those satellite images.

For regular imaging it's not that hard, use camouflage. To use a famous example, try what the Abraham Crijnssen did in World War 2. After being caught behind Japanese lines they painted the deck roughly like rocks and covered the entire ship in jungle foliage. They only moved at night and then anchor during the day. They hid among the other small islands in the Pacific.

For your secret base the same applies. From above you need to appear like any regular uninhabited Island. This is again where the no underground gets difficult. Mostly it means you have very limited build space. You can build under the canopy of your trees. Beyond that there is little space as you don't want to cover the roof with dirt. Or is a thin layer okay? Then make your roofs like dirt and small plants, maybe sand.

Perhaps Iwo Jima, again in World War 2 might offer some inspiration. The Japanese dug in on the Island anticipating a US invasion. Besides an extensive cave and tunnel network they had hidden bunkers all over the Island.

So staying hidden is possible if you accept limited space. Depending on your canopy coverage you can get your one mile diameter or you need to break that into smaller parts scattered around the Island.

Still your biggest issue technology wise would be temperature. You need to limit this. An active volcano might offer some relief here. You need to go underground for it to work but you could hide some heat production in the volcano itself. Maybe even use the geothermal energy itself. The rest of the base though, no heat. Your base will be primitive, limited electricity, electronics as well. I hope your minions like reading in their spare time.

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  • $\begingroup$ Pipes full of sea water will remove excess heat. $\endgroup$ – Donald Hobson Apr 22 '17 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ @DonaldHobson Only if the water is changed with the rest of the ocean, which could be a hero's way in. Otherwise it's just a big, insulated heat-sink. $\endgroup$ – wizzwizz4 Apr 23 '17 at 15:18
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Instead of trying to hide your base, open up a Private Military Contractor, get some contracts and call the island a training camp/operations center. Any military equipment you bring there can be written off as part of your company's stockpile, and as long as you are actually working for the various western intelligence agencies they will probably turn a blind eye to what you are actually doing with the island. As a plus, this will naturally make you friends in the intelligence world, who you may be able to leverage if some nosy superhero is making plans to investigate your base.

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That's probably near impossible in our modern society.

Nowadays, archeologists use satellite imaging (in particular Google Earth) to find ancient site. That's a humongous task, but with the help of volunteers and crowdsourcing, they made a lot of discoveries in the recent years. Not only they have access to traditional images, but also datas from all the light spectrum (infrared,...). Citizens will be more than happy to give a hand to Captain Canada by finding the lair of his ennemy.

One option: own the companies that provide the satellite images to the public and erase your secret palace from the images. Of course, that will be a pain in your devilish ass since that billionaire playboy Bruce Spark that fight you as Steel Man will probably have his own satellite imaging company. Also, the images shared by Google in our world comes from government, in particular the American government. So, you could decide to bribe a high-rank member of the government to force the company to hide your location at the source. This has some limit since, as a genius, Bruce Spark may have his own network of satellites.

Finally, you will need to communicate with the outside world to prepare your evil schemes, and communications can be easily intercepted by this shadow organization S.H.E.L.T.E.R, and tracked back to your location.

As a conclusion, in our modern world, no place can be hidden forever from someone that has technology, time and will. Why do you think that dictators and criminal lords constantly move and use doppelgangers?

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So with a limitless budget we’re asked to design a way to hide the island. All right. Let’s start simple. You could build colour, and design the buildings on the island to look like local geologic formations, boulders, sand dunes, etc. You could also cover the buildings in plants, grass mosses, etc. They would not be underground, simply made to look like it.

We then have the issue of heat signatures. I can’t personally think of anything that would counteract this, besides perhaps building your base under the ocean nearby to the island, but that probably doesn’t fit your requirements. Nonetheless an idea for the evil genius at a later date.

One could also presume, since the budget is limitless, that you could just have spies or hackers who either work for the people after you, or go into their systems and change the images. Erasing them would probably get you noticed, but eh.

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    $\begingroup$ Remove heat signatures by piping cold seawater around under the roof. $\endgroup$ – Donald Hobson Apr 22 '17 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ @DonaldHobson Reread page 346 of your Lair Design textbook. Any sort of ventilation system that goes above, below or around your rooms without at least a metre of solid material in between should be considered a door. $\endgroup$ – wizzwizz4 Apr 23 '17 at 15:21
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You could use the heat from the volcanic activity on the island to evaporate ocean water to permanantly obscure the island with steam. You could also use some sort of weather manipulation like cloud seeding to create a dense layer of clouds over your island.

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    $\begingroup$ Which would be detected eventually, global satellite coverage and automated image analysis tools being what they are today, meaning that at least a few curious scientists would want to check that site out and blow the cover. $\endgroup$ – Hackworth Apr 19 '17 at 23:12
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    $\begingroup$ Let's-investigate-the-permanently-shrouded-in-mist-island was the exact reason for the expedition in the 1976 King Kong movie. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Apr 20 '17 at 3:24
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    $\begingroup$ If you moved your island, this could work. It would look like a weather front. $\endgroup$ – wizzwizz4 Apr 23 '17 at 15:22
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Visually it would be fairly doable if you had the money to build. Just have a huge two story complex, bottom story is your lair, top story is a sprawling tropical island resort. There are no openings between the two that can be found, and all openings of the lair to the outside World are concealed perhaps only accessible by sub.

Perfect for bringing in and out your minions with normal tourists. One entrance to the lair could be built directly under the small airfield even. Island resorts have transient populations and a lot of activity that can be controlled and areas are easyish to block off.

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If you don't have money costraints just start your own space program, launch your own satellites to hack (because physical access is instant pwning) other satellites in orbit to not show your island. Nobody will ever question if satellite imagery is legit.

Money is the best superpower.

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  • $\begingroup$ You'd also have to intercept all of the observation equipment pointed at said satellites; physical access requires physical proximity on the order of metres. $\endgroup$ – wizzwizz4 Apr 23 '17 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe some kind of intelligent space-drone to be thrown at them. $\endgroup$ – beppe9000 Apr 23 '17 at 20:00
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Announce to the world that work is beginning on a new Lord of the Rings movie. Your evil fortress of evil -- so far as the world knows -- is the movie set of Morgoth's house. As epic movies take quite some time to film, you'll have several years before anyone becomes suspicious.

Once the trade rags start wondering what's going on, cancel the movie. Revamp the facade, and now your Evil Lair is the movie set for the Assassin's Fortress in the new Assassin's Creed movie.

You should be able to keep this up indefinitely, with the added bonus of a cool new look every few years. Heck, you might even end up producing an actual movie or two!

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  • $\begingroup$ Or just present the owners as incompetent. Many large and arguably evil looking buildings have taken years to open. See NK Hotel of Doom. OR Who could have foreseen that Disney would have an issue with building my own Disney Land. That is why that evil looking castle is "unused," it is working its way through the court system. $\endgroup$ – user2259716 Aug 30 '17 at 16:37
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Permanent fog!

Just turn on the volcano (or fake it) so it keeps the island (all or the part you want to hide) under a permanent fog.

This will attract scientists, but you jail then and force then to work for you ... until someone reports to a superhero that his friend is missing and he will investigate in the last known place :)

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  • $\begingroup$ Hey, be careful about your scientist-acquisition practices. Oftentimes scientists come with beautiful daughters who are in severe danger of falling in love with interloping heroes. Being an evil tyrant comes with responsibilities, and these at-risk youth are in your care! (Much as all of humanity will be after The Plan comes to fruition) $\endgroup$ – akaioi Aug 30 '17 at 21:14
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Make a dome of flat-panel monitors, over and around your base, and project the islands former natural glory upon it. Or a dome of mirrors (or fiberoptics), angled at the deeps of the jungle, for the same effect, without giving away heat.

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