Hoax Alert: NASA Images Did NOT Reveal Ancient Human Settlement Under 2.3 KM Of Ice

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk

Notorious hoax website World News Daily Report is at it again. According to their latest article, NASA's operation IceBridge discovered traces of a possible ancient human settlement under 2.3 kilometres of ice on Antarctica. Scientists supposedly used 'Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) lidar technology' meant for 'the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2)' to be launched next year but which was currently being tested in an aircraft.

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Of course it is all bunk. The first clue is in the image that goes with the article, reproduced here. The left part is indeed an image from Antarctica, but it was made by Landsat 8. The second image is not even from the same continent: it is a Google maps image from Saqqara in Egypt, showing a burried pyramid.

The scientists mentioned in the article don't seem to exist either: "Nathan Borrowitz, IceBridge's project scientist" is notoriously absent if you do a Google search for him (first result is a San Francisco sales engineer), an his supposed picture is actually from another NASA scientist: Alexander Kashlinsky:

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The person pictured as "Ashoka Tripathi, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Calcutta" is actually Dr Rakesh Tewari, Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). As far as we can tell, Dr Tewari has nothing to do with NASA or Antarctica at all.

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Despite all this, the article managed to rack up an impressive number of likes and shares on social media. As we here at Lead Stories say: It's not because it's trending that it's true!


  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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