‘Astronaut Sunita Williams Pics of Earth’ – Forwarded email

My mum forwarded me an email containing a PowerPoint presentation purporting to be a bunch of images taken by NASA astronaut Sunita Williams while she was up in space.

While space pictures are awesome, as always my first instinct upon receipt was that it was probably bullshit, and so I did a bit of Googling. Turns out at least one of the photos was taken pre-2003 and from a quick Google I did it seems that there’s a bit of dispute about several of the other photos too.

I can’t actually find any authoritative source for any of those photos actually being from Sunita – I haven’t seen them on any of the websites that I visit (with nerdish regularity) that have photos from the Shuttle missions, NASA, etc.

While the pictures are neat and hopefully will encourage people to take more of an interest in getting us off this rock, it serves as yet another reminder not to automatically believe anything you read in your inbox. Or on the Internet. Or in the newspaper, or on the news, or anything anyone tells you, ever.

Edit: I should point out that _some_ of the photos might actually be hers – but I can’t find any proof that they in fact are. All I can find is that at least one of them is probably not hers, which raises doubt over the others.

7 thoughts on “‘Astronaut Sunita Williams Pics of Earth’ – Forwarded email”

  1. Wow, I just got that same file tonight from a friend, here in the USA in Massachusetts! It’s blazing around the earth :) I was Googling too, to find out more about the photos, and found your blog. Thanks for the post!

  2. I also cannot find any independeint corrobation of their origin. And they seem to well centered and perfect to be actual photos — no to mention the perfect night time shots of each hemisphere… Something is fishy….

  3. Look at the first photo under the heading “Our Planet in the Middle of the Universe at Night.”

    It appears that we’re looking down at the North Pole, with Asia and Europe at the top of the globe, the U.S. at the bottom. Notice that lights are on around the entire globe.

    Unless I’m mistaken and earth has fallen off its axis, that simply can’t occur.

  4. She may have taken one or two, but most clearly weren’t taken by her. The Shuttle doesn’t do polar orbits so couldn’t take the ones of the poles. It also orbits too close in to be able to see the whole face of the globe. Several are Earth Resource satellite images (you can’t see seabed detail without using radar). There’s also several composite (there is always cloud somewhere on a hemisphere.
    Beautiful photos, but Sunita clearly didn’t do anything more than Photoshop them.

  5. yeah only the first couple of photographs are real, IMO. the rest i think are just graphics showing light pollution. i dont think they are beautiful at all, in fact. light pollution sucks.

  6. My BS alert went off immediately! Notice that the stars in the back ground, on many of the shots, do NOT change even when the view does?(top looking down, bottom looking up, frontside to the etc.) This is BS in spades. Somewhere out there is a geek who thinks he’s funny. At least he’s not laughing at me. Worst part is that this email is still floating around 2 years later…cyberspace junkmail!

  7. I found this answer on the web and it appears to be another hoax email.

    “The pictures this question refers to are the day/night shots and the answer is no. These are satellite pictures but most of them have been enhanced and some of them are composites. As far as exhaustive investigation goes, Sunita Williams took none of these.”

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