The first image of Earth from space was taken by the V-2 No. 13 rocket in 1946 using the DeFry 35mm movie film camera and a 50mm lens attached to the rocket. The camera had a relatively narrow field of view. As a result, Earth’s curvature is only very slightly visible.
Flat-Earthers claim the flat appearance in the photo “proves” a flat Earth. In reality, 1. by careful examination, we can see the curve, 2. the camera has a narrow field of view, reducing the visible curvature, 3. the photo shown by flat-Earthers is usually a cropped version, further reducing the visible curve, and 4. the photo matches the expected curvature according to simulation.
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In 2021, William Shatner becomes the oldest person to travel to space after he went up with Blue Origin. Conspiracy theorists noticed a Photoshopped image of Shatner wearing a Blue Origin Jacket. And they use the image to discredit spaceflight.
Conspiracy theorists —including flat-Earthers— were quick to notice the Photoshop job, yet unable to notice the glaring fact that Blue Origin had nothing to do with it.
Even if they did it, it does not “prove” anything. This incident, however, serves to demonstrate the inability of conspiracy theorists to use their critical thinking skills.
Continue reading “Image of William Shatner Wearing the Same Jacket as Jeff Bezos”
A Sun outage is a disruption of geostationary satellite signal caused by interference of the sun when it falls directly behind a satellite with which a receiver is communicating. Sun outages occur around the March equinox and September equinox.
Flat-Earthers fail to understand how the schedule of a Sun outage depends on the satellite and the receiver’s location. And they use it to discredit the fact. In reality, it is not difficult to visualize how a Sun outage occurs, and it will be consistent with the expectation.
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A neutral buoyancy pool is a pool of water in which neutral buoyancy is used to train astronauts for the difficult task of working outside a spacecraft in a weightless environment. Some of these pools contain full-scale mock-ups of ISS modules and other spacecraft.
Flat-Earthers discovered videos of astronauts in a pool of water, and they jumped to the conclusion that it is how they faked videos of astronauts in space. In reality, these are videos of astronauts in a neutral buoyancy pool, in training for their upcoming mission to space.
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Sound wave requires medium to propagate. There is no air in space, and therefore, sound cannot travel over space. However, in some cases, sound and vibration can still travel over solid objects —like spacecraft or spacesuits— that exist in space.
In some videos taken in space, things that occur in a vacuum can be heard, and flat-Earthers use it to discredit spaceflight. In reality, 1. sound can still travel over solid spacesuits and spacecraft, 2. vibrations can cause noise in microphones, 3. there is air inside spacesuits and many spacecraft, 4. the sound was heard over the radio communication system, and not directly over space.
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The DSCOVR satellite orbits around the Lagrangian point L1 between the Sun and Earth. We can say the DSCOVR satellite lies between the Sun and Earth, but it is not exactly between them.
Flat-Earthers discovered images taken by the DSCOVR satellite showing the Moon in front of Earth and a solar eclipse shadow on Earth’s surface. Then they concluded it should be impossible if DSCOVR is really between the Sun and Earth. In reality, the DSCOVR satellite is not exactly between the Sun and Earth. It orbits a point between the Sun and Earth.
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Stars are dim. We can only see them if our eyes are adapted for low light. Astronauts in space can see the stars when the sun is blocked from view and avoid seeing any large sunlit objects.
Some astronauts said they did not notice the stars, but others claim they could see them. Flat-Earthers use the conflicting statements to discredit spaceflight. In reality, sometimes astronauts can see the stars, and sometimes cannot, just like us on the ground, depending on the situation.
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In cinema, a making-of or behind-the-scenes is a documentary featuring the production of a film. It describes how the scenes in a movie were created. Some trolls took footage from the behind-the-scenes of various space movies and present them to flat-Earthers as though it is how space agencies “faked” their videos.
Flat-Earthers fail to realize that these footage were just behind-the-scenes of space movies and unrelated to the actual space footage from space agencies. These spread as hoaxes in flat-Earth circles.
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A frame of reference consists of an abstract coordinate system and physical reference points that uniquely fix the coordinate system and standardize measurements. Speed or velocity is relative to a specific frame of reference. It is possible that two speeds/velocities are measured relative to a different frame of reference and thus cannot be directly compared.
Flat-Earthers like to compare two different speed measurements like an airplane moving at 900 km/h (560 mph) and Earth’s surface near the equator at 1674 km/h (1040 mph). They would conclude the airplane should not be able to catch up with Earth’s surface and would not land if the Earth is rotating. In reality, both the speeds are measured relative to a different frame of reference, and therefore, cannot be compared directly.
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The fallacy of appeal to worse problems (or relative privation) occurs when someone argues that efforts spent to solve a specific problem are a waste by pointing out that there are bigger problems that need to be solved.
Space research is a common target of appeal to worse problems. Flat-Earthers use it to discredit space research and to make people emotional. In reality, it is possible to care about multiple problems simultaneously, and solving the supposed smaller problems does not mean the bigger one is considered unimportant.
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Rocket engines produce thrust by releasing mass rearward at a very high speed according to Newton’s third law, not unlike how discharging a fire extinguisher pushes us backward.
Flat-Earthers claim that rocket engines cannot possibly work in space because space if vacuum and there is no air to push against. In reality, it is possible to produce thrust in a vacuum by releasing mass —that we call “propellants”— rearward at a very high speed.
Continue reading “How Rocket Engines Work in A Vacuum”
Clouds are moved by the wind. The average wind speed at the altitude of clouds is only about 18–70 km/h, relatively slow compared to the size of visible Earth’s surface from space.
Flat-Earthers use the lack of an apparent cloud movement to discredit videos taken from space. In reality, the clouds are moving far too slowly to appear moving in videos taken from space. To observe the cloud’s motion, we need to speed up the video.
Continue reading “Cloud Movements Seen From Space”
Flat-Earthers like to dismiss any evidence of spherical Earth by mentioning that we never went to space to witness it ourselves. In reality, to go to space, we need to know Earth is a sphere in the first place and other related knowledge, like gravity.
We knew Earth is a sphere 23 centuries before the first spaceflight. And it is easy to verify Earth is a sphere from simple observations that anyone can do from Earth’s surface.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is a spacecraft orbiting the Moon. It is equipped with a high-resolution camera that has captured photographs of Apollo landing sites.
We often observe flat-Earthers demanding NASA to prove the Apollo missions with recent photos of the landing sites, and NASA has provided just that. However, this too will not be enough for them to accept that the Apollo missions did occur.
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The fallacy of the single cause occurs when it is assumed that there is a single, simple cause of an outcome when in reality, it may have been caused by a number of only jointly sufficient causes.
If it is said that “A causes B,” it is rarely that B is caused only by A, but usually, there are other things that cause B simultaneously with A that are not explicitly mentioned. Assuming that only A causes B from the statement without further consideration is the single-cause fallacy.
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Newton’s cannonball was a thought experiment Isaac Newton used to explain the principle of orbital motion. It was the first explanation of an orbit and still the easiest to understand.
Newton visualizes a cannon on top of a very tall mountain where the air resistance is no longer a factor. As more charge is used with each cannon shot, the speed of the cannonball will be greater, and the cannonball will hit the ground farther and farther. Finally, at a certain speed, it will not hit the ground at all. It will fall toward the spherical Earth just as fast as the Earth curves away from it. In the absence of drag from the atmosphere, it will continue forever in orbit around the Earth.
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The Apollo Lunar Module needed to be as light as possible. It would also operate only in a vacuum and did not have to be sturdy or aerodynamic. To reduce weight, its hull was covered with various insulation blankets instead of rigid heat shields.
Flat-Earthers often ridicule the shape of the lunar module of being flimsy. In reality, there is no requirement to look pretty. The flimsy-looking things are just the insulation blankets. The actual hull underneath them provides structural support.
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Many space missions use animations to visualize the state of the missions because it is impossible to record a video of the event. Spacecrafts continuously send telemetry data to Earth informing the status of their mission, and from the data, an animation can be constructed to illustrate the spacecraft’s current situation.
Flat-Earthers accuse that the animations are “proof” that the missions are faked. In reality, the animations are faithful depictions of the missions and are made to visualize the real state of the mission. Animations are used because it is not viable to send another spacecraft only to record a video of the mission. Furthermore, in the cases where the video is available, it is still too difficult for these flat-Earthers to accept reality.
The International Space Station (ISS) was not constructed overnight. It is built gradually, and new components are still arriving after more than 20 years since it was first launched.
The ISS is one of humankind’s greatest achievements, but there is no video showing its construction from start to finish. Flat-Earthers use the fact to “disprove” the existence of the ISS. In reality, the ISS was constructed gradually in years. There is no such video the same way there is none for New York City, for example. It does not mean New York City does not exist. On the other hand, we can find plenty of videos showing the assembly of its specific modules on the Internet. Continue reading “ISS Construction Video”
It is possible to fly to space as a tourist as long as we are willing to pay a lot of money. There have been seven persons who went to space and paid the trip from their own pockets.
Flat-Earthers claim if the first human spaceflight was more than half a century ago, there should be space tourism by now. In reality, there were already several cases of space tourism, even if it is still beyond the reach of most people today.
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