FACT CHECK: Did A Russian Probe Capture An Image Of Lights On The Far Side Of The Moon?
An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows a picture taken by a Russian space probe that shows lights radiating from the far side of the moon.
The photo is from a NASA space probe and shows lights on the dwarf planet Ceres, not the moon.
The Lunik 3, a Soviet Union satellite, took the first photographs of the Moon’s far side in 1959, according to BBC News. In 2019, China’s Chang’e-4 lunar mission landed on the far side of the moon becoming the first human-built lunar object to touchdown in the area, National Geographic reported.
The Facebook image, shared over 340 times, shows what appears to be a small area of bright spots visible on a celestial body. “A Russian space probe has captured what appears to be a city full of lights on the far side of the Moon,” the caption states, though it does not give a date for when the photo was taken. (RELATED: Did NASA Spend More Than $165 Million To Develop Pens That Work In Space?)
The photo does not show the moon. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory published the photo in November 2018 along with a caption that explains it shows the Occator Crater on Ceres, a dwarf planet located between Mars and Jupiter. The photo was captured in September 2018 by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft during the final phase of its mission, the laboratory reported.
NASA announced in 2020 the glowing spots on the surface are composed of deposits of sodium, carbon and oxygen. The bright spots likely formed due to liquid that evaporated after rising to the dwarf planet’s surface, creating a reflective salt crust, though it is unclear where the liquid originated from, the announcement stated.
Russian aerospace company NPO Lavochkin is planning to launch the Luna-25 space probe in August, the country’s first mission to the moon in over 40 years, state media agency RIA Novosti reported.