When it comes to public science agencies, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (N.AS.A.) is by far one of the coolest on Earth. N.A.S.A. takes a lot of shit it does not deserve. For an open public entity, it sure scares the crap out of a lot of people. I really do not understand that. N.A.S.A.and the exceptional engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (J.P.L.) have done more than any other institution on the planet to advance our scientific frontiers. They hire the best and brightest minds to do the near impossible. Sometimes they fail, but most of the time they hit their planetary discovery mark. Accomplishments in human spaceflight include the Mercury program, Gemini program, Apollo program, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz, Shuttle-Mir Program, Project Constellation, Space Shuttle, and the International Space Station.
What’re a few planetary probes dying from “sudden de-acceleration syndrome” between friends?
Not only does the space agency explore the galaxy and probe the far reaches of the universe, they have and do pioneer discoveries in dozens of other scientific disciplines. They develop innovative technology and collect data on climate change, volcanism, and a dozen other pulses of our planet. Their mission is to “reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind,” and so far, I think they’re doing a pretty stellar job.
Then one day they collectively lost their mind?
They decided to falsify imagery data and put all that they have accomplished, and all that they have learned at risk of being tarnished irreparably. Photoshopping the truth out. Why would they do that? The answer is that they would not. Could not. N.A.S.A. as of 2016 has 17,345 formal employees. These include the best scientists on the planet. It also includes engineers, clerical staff, volunteers, and interns (young adults). Some people do not realize that N.A.S.A. allows high school students run around and work there for top notch work experience. The near endless public tours of their design and launch complexes must keep them busy picking up cotton candy, trampled gum wrappers, and discarded guidebook programs. Sounds like such a dark and evil place, doesn’t it? With all of these people meeting at least once a day in the great corporate melting pot, water cooler, and gossiping Sally all rolled into one… The cafeteria. All levels of people mixing, eating, talking, enjoying a good burger. Secrets especially juicy ones have a very short life expectancy in that environment.
This beautiful image of the earth released by N.A.S.A. in 2002 has some clouds that look like duplicates. How can the same cloud appear more than once? The exact same cloud imaged edit and copied over and over? It is quite obvious. This image has been passed around for a long time claiming massive impropriety by N.A.S.A.
After a short period of time, an astute N.A.S.A. watcher noticed that when you examine this image of the earth closer you can see duplicate clouds. How can that be? Fractal nature of reality? Nope.
This image is a favorite of the N.A.S.A.-hating, conspiracy crowd who claim that since there is some obvious Photoshop editing visible when viewed up close, that it is irrefutable evidence that “N.A.S.A. has faked every single image from space and we never went to the moon and satellites do not exist and the Earth is flat and the government has been lying to us about N.A.S.A“.
Wrong on all counts.
As in most situations where the conspiracy crowd gets involved, you see prime examples of the blind leading the blank. For conspiracies to really take hold it helps not to be too smart or too educated. In this case, both kinds of people are well represented. These people have never heard of the idea of a photo mosaic. This example is not a photograph, but a composite image built up of multiple images taken at a slightly different time.
N.A.S.A. never claimed that the image was a single untouched photo of the Earth. A representative from N.A.S.A. who helped create it explained publically that there were actually very few pictures of the entire planet in 2002 because Earth-observing satellites are in low-earth or geostationary orbit, which is not far enough away to get much of the planet in the field of view. Apollo 17 took a famous photo in 1972 on the way to the Moon, but this one is a higher resolution composite created by stitching together multiple images from N.A.S.A’.s Terra satellite, then filling in the missing areas to get a sophisticated visualization based on real data and a little bit of artistic license. There was no hoax. No intent to deceive. No claim was made that it is a single untouched photograph. It is one of a series of “Blue Marble” images from N.A.S.A. that are free for the public to use.
There is a similar root cause to why some true believers claim to see ufos by the Sun. These cameras are not like the ones we have on consumer shelves. Do you see a UFO in the image to the left? The white blob thing. What is it? Often several specific detectors (lenses, let’s say) will merge their data into a representation. It’s not aliens in or by the Sun. It is just limitations on the available hardware and the nature of operating in near hellish conditions near a sustained nuclear fusion explosion the size of a million Earths. Parts of images get blown away by stray high-energy particles hitting the detectors at moment of exposure, or something happened to the data stream back to Earth. You can only shield for what you can expect. What you are seeing is the absence of information nothing more.
Fortunately, since 2014 we have DSCOVR which sits in a stable location between us and the Sun, a million miles away, and takes about a dozen whole-Earth photos a day and is compiling a large image database (and no photo-shopped composites). N.A.S.A. posts them on a very awesome website here: DSCOVR::EPIC::Earth Polychromatic Camera. This is also a good site to send a “Flat Earther” if you want to make their heads explode.
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