On January 24, a Facebook user “Salome Shonia,” who is a regular disseminator of disinformation” shared a video and image, claiming that footage from NASA’s live broadcast of the launch of Artemis 1 to the moon showed that the real form of the earth is a disk. The author of the post further asserted that NASA realised their mistake and cut the footage. The post then questioned how everything is measured at sea level and how 70% of the earth’s water can be at the same level if the earth is spherical. The post ends by questioning water flow, given that height is only counted if there is a flat surface. According to this Facebook user, if the earth was a sphere, then all rivers should move in the same direction and not cross each other.
Notaby, the user “Salome Shonia” mentioned the mission of NASA in the initial version of the post. The edited version of the post no longer mentioned Artemis 1, although the claim about the Earth being a disk remains unchanged.
The post contains false information. An array of observations and calculations conducted both on Earth and in space have proven that the Earth is a sphere. Videos from the Artemis 1 mission by NASA do not show contrary evidence, and there is no cover-up NASA is engaging in. Furthermore, the claims related to sea levels and river flows misunderstand the science at play.
The video and close-up snapshot of the earth attached to the post do appear to show a flatter disk rather than the big sphere we are more familiar with. However, this is largely to do with the angle of the picture and where light is coming from in space. A separate video clip posted on Twitter by NASA more clearly shows the Earth as a half-sphere, rather than a squished disk.
Furthermore, the cutout shown in the video clip on Facebook is also not due to any conspiracy on the part of NASA scientists. Instead, NASA was only able to show real-time views of the mission on their feed as long as the bandwidth allowed. If there was a loss of signal or the bandwidth was needed for mission activities, then viewers were shown the Artemis logo or the last frame of good video data.
Besides using images from the Artemis 1 mission, the post questioned sea level, with the insinuation that 70% of the earth’s water cannot be at the same level if the earth is spherical. According to the National Geographic Society, sea level is the base level for measuring elevation and depth on Earth. And in fact, the sea is not actually at one level — winds, currents, river discharges, and variations in gravity and temperature affect the sea surface from being truly level. Therefore, sea level is measured in relation to the adjacent land, which can rise and fall over time.
Similarly, the post claims that if the earth was a sphere, all rivers should move in the same direction without crossing each other, as height is only important if there is a flat surface. However, rivers flow in the direction they do due to the Earth’s gravity. Water flows downhill from the highest point to the lowest point using the path of least resistance. Elevation is therefore an important factor in determining river flow. It also means that some rivers, most famously the Nile, flow in a direction that seems not to make sense if we view the Earth having a North and a South whereby all rivers should flow “down” towards the South. However, in reality, cardinal directions are a human invention. There is no north, south, east, or west in space. Because the Nile originates in the south of Egypt in an area with a higher altitude than northern Egypt, the water flows almost due north into the Mediterranean Sea.
About the Source
Facebook account “Salome Shonia” repeatedly shared conspiracies and disinformation on different topics, including vaccines. Salome Shonia’s posts were previously rated as false.
Erasmus CEERES student, myth detector trainee
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