Fact Check. Did NASA use landscape photography in Bulgaria to “manufacture” an image of Mars? – Observer

The thesis has been running for several months and multiplies itself through Facebook pages and groups that spread conspiracy theories: NASA, the American space agency, would have forged the photograph of a landscape in Bulgaria, adulterating the colors of the image to stay in a tone reddish and presenting it as if it had been captured on Mars. “It is so easy to go to the non-existent rust-colored planet”, reads this post, published on March 7, but which replicates a montage with the two versions of the photograph – the original and the one that would have been altered by NASA.

This image has been shared for months with different texts framing it. But they have one thing in common: all posts accuse NASA of “deceiving” the public and that explorations on Mars are nothing more than “lies”. “Mars is a wandering star and not exactly a physical thing, like the earth”, concludes the publication reproduced here.

It turns out that the photograph is, in fact, from Bulgaria and not from Mars – but NASA never used it, much less tried to pass it off as an image captured on the red planet. This confirms, from the outset, a research carried out in two different tools to ascertain the origin of images published on the internet. The image appears associated with the Bulgarian page of National Geographic magazine, as well as with several blogs dedicated, above all, to the theme of travel.

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There is even some confusion as to the origin of the photograph, since the name of that rock formation, known as “Stone Forest”, or “stone forest” – the real name is Pobitite Kamani -, coincides with that of another landscape , also known by this ‘nickname’ but located in China. What is certain is that in neither case is the image associated with Mars.

In addition to this research not referring in any way to the official NASA website, in a manual search it is possible to confirm that the space agency has, in fact, published many photographs taken on Mars, but it is possible to ascertain none of them coincides with that is used by this Facebook user. NASA itself – which the Observer tried to contact, having received an e-mail stating that it would not be possible to send a reply in due time – has already clarified several international bodies on the subject. To the Reuters news agency, for example, a space agency source replied that “this is not a photograph of Mars”.

NASA releases new Mars images captured by Perseverance

There are several photographs of Mars, and even more since, on February 18, Perseverance – the most sophisticated robot sent by NASA to the red planet – arrived at its destination, on a mission accompanied by the outside world and recorded by NASA itself in photographs and videos shared on your website and social networks. Perseverance’s mission is to look for traces of life (microbes) in the delta of a river that once existed on Mars.

NASA has already published the first Perseverance photo album on Mars

It is post it’s fake. There is no evidence that NASA has ever used or tampered with the image in question, of a rock formation in Bulgaria, to present it as if it were from Mars. The space agency itself has already come to clarify that, in addition to regularly publishing many other true photographs captured on missions sent to the red planet.

According to the Observer’s classification, this content is:

WRONG

In the Facebook rating system, this content is:

FALSE: The main claims of the content are factually inaccurate. Generally, this option corresponds to the “false” or “mostly false” classifications on fact checkers’ websites.

Note: this content was selected by the Observer as part of a fact checking partnership with Facebook.

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