A luxury skyscraper in San Francisco, Calif., is sinking into the ground at a rate of about two inches per year, a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite confirmed Monday.
The skyscraper, dubbed the Millennium Tower, is a 58-story building located in the heart of the city. The ESA satellite, dubbed Sentinel-1, confirmed the building has already sunk eight inches since it was built in 2008, and is tilting two inches.
Millennium Tower’s residents have filed a $500 million class-action lawsuit against the developer, the transit authority, and other parties. Apartments and condos in the tower cost millions to purchase, infuriating their owners. Since the building was completed in 2008, the developer has made hundreds of millions of dollars in sales from the approximately 400 units in the building, according to The New York Times. Legal experts expect that evidence from the satellite will almost certainly be used in the lawsuit.
Scientists aren’t exactly sure why the building is sinking, but they suspect supporting piles are not resting on solid bedrock. San Francisco is experiencing a building boom due to extremely high property values.
ESA’s Sentinal satellites are typically used to monitor sea ice in the Artic. Though they were not deisgned to moniter buildings, their nature allows them to closely track any movement. ESA intends to expand its use of these satellites to monitor structures constructed on land reclaimed from the water and other areas which aren’t built on solid ground around the world.
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