Fake News: Chinese Lunar Rover Finds No Evidence of American Moon Landings (Exactly As Expected...)

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Chinese Lunar Rover Finds No Evidence of American Moon Landings (Exactly As Expected...)

Did Chinese officials involved with their space program express skepticism that the American Moon landings ever happened because their recently landed lunar rover did not find any evidence for them? No, that's not true: the story was made up by a Canadian entertainment website that makes a living by publishing fictional stories often involving weird crimes, bizarre sex acts or strange accidents. It is not real.

The story originated from an article published by World News Daily Report on titled "Chinese lunar rover finds no evidence of American Moon landings" (archived here) which opened:

Beijing | Top officials of the Chinese Space Program have come out this week and expressed their skepticism that the American Moon landings ever happened, reports the Beijing Daily Express.

More than 2,000 high-ranking officials of the Chinese Communist Party have signed a petition this week asking explanations from the American government concerning the American Moon landings after doubts arose that the Apollo Moon landings ever happened.

These allegations have come up after recent analysis of pictures taken from the Chinese Chang'e-4 probe allegedly found no traces of the American Moon landings existing on the Moon.

We found no trace of any newspaper named "Beijing Daily Express". The story also quotes a "Russian astrophysicist":

Russia's top astrophysicist, Yury Ignatyevich Mukhin, has also made a public statement this week claiming that the Russian government "had always been aware of the situation since the early 1970's"

But the only person by that name we were able to find is an antisemitic political activist with a history of promoting Moon landing conspiracy theories

In addition to that: the thing the Chinese lunar probe is most famous for is that it is the first one to land on the side of the Moon that is always facing away from Earth (i.e. the so-called "dark side"):

A scientist at NASA has figured out exactly where China landed its historic lunar mission on the moon's far side

For the first time in history, China landed a spacecraft on the moon's far side. The Chang'e-4 mission safely placed a rover and lander on the lunar surface Wednesday night (early Thursday morning in China). Broadly, the moon mission landed inside a crater that's located within a large, ancient collision site called the South Pole-Aitken Basin.

All the American Moon landings happened on the other side of the Moon:

Moon landings map

No evidence of Moon landings would be exactly what one would expect on the far side of the Moon, because there haven't been any. It would be like landing in the desert and not finding any evidence of penguins, or landing on the North Pole and not finding any evidence of palm trees.

The website World News Daily Report is a well known satire website specialized in posting hoaxes and made up stories. The disclaimer on their website is pretty clear about that even though you have to scroll all the way down the page to find it:

World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website - even those based on real people - are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.

It is run by Janick Murray-Hall and Olivier Legault, who also run the satirical Journal de Mourréal, a satirical site spoofing the (real) Journal de Montéal. Very often their stories feature an image showing a random crazy mugshot found in a mugshot gallery on the internet or on a stock photo website superimposed over a background of flashing police lights or crime scene tape.

Articles from the site are frequently copied (sometimes even months or years later) by varous fake news websites that omit the satire disclaimer and present the information as real.

  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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