FACT CHECK: Is This A NASA Satellite Image Of The Australian Wildfires?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A post shared on Facebook more than 19,000 times purportedly shows a NASA satellite image of the Australian wildfires.

“Australia … Image from NASA,” reads the post.

Verdict: False

The image is actually a digital visualization of wildfire hotspots based on NASA data. An Australian photographer, not NASA, created the image.

Fact Check:

Australians have been battling wildfires across the country since September 2019, with the states of New South Wales and Victoria being the most severely affected. The fires have killed at least 28 people and, in New South Wales alone, damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 homes, reported CNN.

A number of social media users have shared alleged images of the wildfires in an effort to raise awareness for the ongoing natural disaster. One image circulating widely on Facebook claims to show a NASA photograph of the Australian wildfires taken from space.

Through a reverse image search, the Daily Caller News Foundation discovered the supposed satellite image does not come from NASA but rather Anthony Hearsey, a Brisbane-based photographer and graphic designer. He created the digital image and posted it on Instagram Jan. 5.

“This is a 3D visualisation (sic) of the hotspots in Australia. NOT A PHOTO. Think of this as a graph,” Hearsey wrote on Instagram. “Also note this was created as an art piece.” (RELATED: Viral Image Claims To Show A Baby Koala Rescued From The Australian Wildfires By A Golden Retriever)

Hearsey used NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management Systems (FIRMS) data from Dec. 5, 2019, to Jan. 5, 2020, to create the digital visualization, per his website. FIRMS tracks wildfires around the world in near real-time.

“Scale is a little exaggerated due to the render’s glow, but generally true to the info from the NASA website,” Hearsey states on his website. “Also note that NOT all the areas are still burning, and this is a compilation.”

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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