FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show ‘Earth, Venus And Jupiter As Seen From Mars’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows “Earth, Venus and Jupiter as seen from Mars.”

Verdict: False

The image is computer generated, not captured on Mars.

Fact Check:

Last week, NASA successfully landed its latest rover, Perseverance, on Mars. Many social media users were excited by the news and began sharing images and videos purportedly taken on the red planet’s surface. (RELATED: Does This Video Show Footage Captured By The Perseverance Mars Rover)

One widely-shared image claims to be a picture from Mars that shows the distant planets of Earth, Venus and Jupiter as white specks in the red-tinted sky. The caption reads, “Earth, Venus and Jupiter as seen from Mars.”

The image is computer generated, not an actual photo from Mars. Check Your Fact found that the picture was the subject of a 2012 Slate article titled “An unreal Mars skyline,” in which astronomer Phil Plait noted that the letters “NE,” as in the direction northeast, are visible in the bottom-left corner, indicating it was created using planetarium software. NASA also confirmed to the Associated Press that the picture is not real.

“This image is not a real image,” Edwin Kite, a University of Chicago assistant professor that studies Mars, told Check Your Fact in an email. “Looks like it’s a revival of a simulated image from no later than 2012.”

The image has circulated the internet since at least 2012, reverse image searches show. One of the earliest appearances of the image is in a 2010 blog post in which the author, Louise Riofrio, wrote, “This is the view you would see looking East from Gusev Crater at local sunrise, 1:14 PM Universal Time,” also seemingly indicating it is not a real picture from Mars.

Mars rovers have taken photos from the surface of the red planet that show other planetary bodies in the sky. In 2014, NASA’s Curiosity rover captured Earth and the Moon in the night sky. Another image on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website shows Earth and Venus in 2020.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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