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- There’s no evidence to support the claim that an image depicting Earth being shared among people who wrongly believe the planet is flat was leaked from Elon Musk and NASA.
An image of what looks like Earth, if it were rolled flat, is being shared on social media with a surprising description.
"Data leak at Elon Musk AND NASA — this photo and another eleven photos are said to be from one of Elon Musk’s Space-X satellites," the post says. "These photos were not encrypted during transmission. NASA hackers would have intercepted them."
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
We reached out to both NASA and SpaceX, the rocket company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk, but didn’t hear back.
However, we found no evidence to support the claim that this image was made public as a result of a leak at the federal agency or Musk’s private company. Previous authenticated leaks, such as video of a SpaceX rocket exploding in 2019 and an email from Musk warning SpaceX faced bankruptcy in 2021, were both well-covered in the media. It follows that news organizations would also cover the alleged leak of this image, but we found no such reports.
The image itself has been online for years, and previously, it wasn’t connected to NASA, SpaceX or Elon Musk.
This NASA image, created by combining data from two satellites, shows what Earth looks like from space. It is well-established that the Earth is a sphere — more specifically, an irregularly shaped ellipsoid, according to the National Ocean Service — and it does not look like the image in the Facebook post.
We rate this post False.
Facebook post, May 15, 2022
Orlando Sentinel, After video of SpaceX explosion leaked, NASA workers told they can be fired for sharing images, April 30, 2019
Newsweek, Elon Musk Responds to Leaked Email Where He Warns SpaceX Faces Bankruptcy, Dec. 1, 2021
Climate Feedback, The Earth is a sphere that rotates on its axis and revolves around the Sun, contrary to Flat Earth video, Nov. 27, 2020
National Ocean Service, Is the Earth round?, visited May 18, 2021
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