On July 23, 2022, the Twitter account “Curiosity” (@Sciencenature14) posted a picture that allegedly showed an astronaut floating high above the earth outside of the International Space Station (ISS), along with the caption “best selfie ever!”
This is not a genuine selfie taken outside of the ISS but a composite of two or more images.
The portion of this image featuring the astronaut comes from a 2012 photograph that was taken by Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. NASA featured Hoshide’s selfie as their “Astronomy Picture of the Day” on Sept. 18, 2012, writing:
Is it art? Earlier this month, space station astronaut Aki Hoshide (Japan) recorded this striking image while helping to augment the capabilities of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS). Visible in this outworldly assemblage is the Sun, the Earth, two portions of a robotic arm, an astronaut’s spacesuit, the deep darkness of space, and the unusual camera taking the picture. This image joins other historic — and possibly artistic — self-portraits taken previously in space. The Expedition 32 mission ended yesterday when an attached capsule undocked with the ISS and returned some of the crew to Earth.
While Hoshide’s photograph can truly be described as a “selfie from the ISS,” the background of Hoshide’s photo does not match the one shown above. Here’s a look at the original photograph (left) and the composite image (right):
The fake ISS selfie has been circulating on the internet for years. It was created by digital artist Robert Jahns and shared to his Instagram account @Nois7 to commemorate Earth Day in 2014.
Jahns’ digital creations have fooled the internet several times over the years. Jahns’ artwork featuring a lake near Mt. Fuji, a waterslide over Dubai, and a whale in the Venice Canals have all circulated as if they were genuine photographs.
It’s also worth noting that the Curiosity Twitter account that helped this fake ISS selfie go viral in July 2022 has shared miscaptioned images in the past. A few days before sharing the ISS selfie picture, this account posted an image that supposedly showed a beach after being struck by lightning, but actually showed a man-made sand sculpture.
APOD: 2012 September 18 – Orbiting Astronaut Self Portrait. https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120918.html. Accessed 27 July 2022.
hoaxoffame. “Hoax of Fame.” Hoax of Fame, https://hoaxoffame.tumblr.com/post/154667667794/fake-yes-explanation-shared-even-by-cbs-news. Accessed 27 July 2022.
jannefi. “Space Selfie?” HoaxEye, 20 Dec. 2016, https://hoaxeye.com/2016/12/20/space-selfie/.
Pocklington, Rebecca. “Best Selfie Ever? Astronaut Becomes Viral Sensation with His Picture in Space.” Mirror, 18 Nov. 2013, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/astronaut-becomes-viral-sensation-after-2804912.