Fact Check: This is not a photo of Northern Lights from Space

A photo allegedly published by NASA that shows the Northern Lights from Space is being shared by social media users.

By Satya Priya BN  Published on  18 July 2021 4:23 AM GMT
Fact Check: This is not a photo of Northern Lights from Space

Hyderabad: A photo allegedly published by NASA that shows the Northern Lights from Space is being shared by social media users.



Archive links:

https://web.archive.org/web/20210717063951/https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10159070273361049

Fact Check:

The claim that the viral image shows the Northern Lights from Space is FALSE.

NewsMeter performed a Google reverse image search and found that the image has been on the Internet for several years and the claim has been debunked many times.

We found a post from a blog 'sattrackcam.blogspot.com' published in 2014 with the title "What is wrong with this "picture of Aurora from Space"? Answer: everything!" According to the blog, the image shows about 1/3rd of the Earth globe but shows no clouds and no limb brightening. That immediately makes it clear that it is a digital rendering where a cloud-free map of the Earth has been digitally wrapped around the globe.

It further adds, "The auroral ring is wrongly positioned on the globe. In the image, it is centered on the true Pole (the earth's rotational axis), in the Arctic sea. In reality, Aurora is however a phenomenon connected to the Earth's magnetic field, and it, therefore, is centered on the Geomagnetic pole. The Geomagnetic pole is distinctly offset from the true pole: it is located in Northern Canada, on Ellesmere Island."

The blog also explains that it is impossible to see such a large part of the Earth globe at once from the International Space Station. Further, it also shared a tweet that said the image is part of a 3D video published by NASA.

We found a 3D animation video that shows a "view of the Earth's geomagnetic field and following the electrons down to the aurora formation" published by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Conceptual Image Lab in 2005. The viral image can be seen at the 1.03-minute mark. The credits of the video state it is a "3D Unstructured-mesh Magnetosphere Simulation, Model generated by Dan Spicer, NASA".

https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=20056

While the viral image is not the original image of the Northern Lights, NASA has an 'Aurora image gallery' on its website where you can find stunning images.

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/aurora-image-gallery/index.html

The Northern Lights, also called the aurora borealis, are a natural phenomenon caused when electrically charged particles from the Sun collide with the Earth and are drawn to the magnetic poles where they become heated and then glow.

https://www.rmg.co.uk/stories/topics/what-causes-northern-lights-aurora-borealis-explained

Also, the claim and the photo have been debunked by Full Fact.

https://fullfact.org/online/this-isnt-a-real-image-of-the-northern-lights-from-space/

Hence, the claim that the viral image shows the Northern Lights as seen from Space is FALSE.

Claim Review:Photo of Northern Lights from Space
Claimed By:Social Media Users
Claim Reviewed By:Newsmeter
Claim Source:Social Media
Claim Fact Check:False
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