Apple’s new data center is visible (at last!) from space

One of the mysteries surrounding the 500,000-square foot server farm Apple (aapl) has famously constructed in a small North Carolina town called Maiden -- besides its ultimate purpose -- is why it didn't show up on Google Earth.

We knew what it looked like, thanks to the local Fox TV affiliate, a trespassing photographer and a local real estate agent who conducted a couple of video flybys that ended up on YouTube (see here).

But if you asked Google Earth or Google Maps to show you the intersection of U.S. Route 321 and Startown Road -- where the data center is located --  the current satellite imagery stopped a few yards short of the construction site. West of Startown Road, there was, as recently as two weeks ago, nothing but woods and farmland and a bit of driveway that ended abruptly in the middle of a field.

After Apple's announcement Tuesday that Steve Jobs was ready to reveal iCloud -- the "upcoming cloud services offering" presumably based in Maiden, N.C. -- we thought we'd give Google Maps another try.

Lo and behold, there it was: A huge, white, nondescript building with a road leading in, a road leading out, and almost no employee parking.

How was Apple able to keep Google (goog) from displaying this particular swath of satellite imagery -- imagery provided by the USDA Farm Services Agency? That's still a mystery.

Below: The image of the site Google Maps was delivering before the iCloud announcement.

<!-- more -->

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions