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Chandrayaan-2: Don't Believe the Fake Space Images of Earth Being Shared on WhatsApp

Chandrayaan-2: Don't Believe the Fake Space Images of Earth Being Shared on WhatsApp

A series of forwarded WhatsApp images show various exaggerated natural phenomena on Earth, seemingly captured by the Chandrayaan-2 shuttle. These images are very obviously fake.

Chandrayaan-2 is presently placed in Earth's orbit, where it has been executing orbit-raising manoeuvres before making a seven-day journey to the moon. While India's first indigenous moon mission has all of us quite naturally excited, there is also a significant need for fact checks to prevent spreading of rumours and misinformation regarding Chandrayaan-2. Among other factors, one that came to News18's notice was a recent batch of forwarded images, which claim to be images of Earth captured by Chandrayaan-2 and shared by ISRO.

One of the fake images that is being claimed as shot by Chandrayaan-2. (Photo: Unknown/WhatsApp)

As we went ahead with our fact checking initiative, it is very evident from the onset that none of the images are real. Each of the shared images, some of which we have attached here to spread the word regarding them being fake, are artist renditions of Earth from outer space. While each of these may certainly look quite appealing, the natural phenomena depicted in the images are clearly exaggerated to a point where they cannot even occur naturally.

A simple Google image search further reveals the sources of these images, which range from Twitter and Pinterest to art hubs such as DeviantArt and Tumblr. Each of the images can be traced back to searches on Google under queries such as 'nightside of Earth from space', 'solar eclipse from moon', 'moon and earth art' and 'volcanic eruption from space', among others. None of these are rare photographs that have been originally captured by Chandrayaan-2, and neither have they been released by ISRO.

Each of these images can be traced back to artist illusions listed on Google Images. (Photo: Unknown/WhatsApp)

Given the nature of this incident, it is important that the forwarded images are labelled out as fake, in order to restrict their reach. The issue of misinformation and fake news has been rampant on social media platforms, and even though WhatsApp has been adopting tools such as labelling of content and restricting batch forwards in order to prevent spamming, the issue very evidently persists as of now. It is, in essence, a case of content that looks too unnatural to be true, and users are always urged to attempt to verify the sources of information, before forwarding to others.