Fact Check: NASA Video Does NOT Prove Satellites Are Fake

Fact Check

  • by: Madison Dapcevich
Fact Check: NASA Video Does NOT Prove Satellites Are Fake Rendition

Does a NASA video prove that satellites are "manifestly fake," as a post on TikTok claimed? No, that's not true: The clip shared to TikTok used genuine NASA footage of an artistic rendering of satellites orbiting in space. Those clips were not presented by NASA as authentic satellite images, and the video shared to TikTok cropped out the label that made it clear it was an "artistic rendering," Lead Stories determined.

The claim appeared in a video shared to TikTok on February 6, 2024 (archived here), with a caption that read:

What's your thoughts on this? #nasa #satellite #space #globe #awakening #seeingisbelieving #fyp

Below is how the post appeared at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-02-08 at 8.07.38 AM.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken Thu Feb 8 11:26:09 UTC 2024)

At the 1:07 mark in the video above, the speaker stated, "Finally, look at these actual NASA videos of [a] satellite. They are manifestly fake."

A reverse image search via Google Lens (archived here) using the above screenshot returned a NASA webpage titled, "Small Satellites yield Big Discoveries" that was posted on February 4, 2019 (archived here). Included in the post was the original NASA video, which clearly showed a text overlay that read "Artistic Rendering" that had been cropped from the version on TikTok.

The NASA video was originally posted on YouTube on March 20, 2017 (archived here), to describe a new technology known as CubeSats. A caption that accompanied the video read:

NASA is embracing small satellite designs, from tiny CubeSats to micro-satellites. These miniature marvels are providing many ways to collect science data and to demonstrate new technologies.

Visible at the 3:53-minute mark of the video on YouTube -- which featured the clip from TikTok -- was a text overlay in the bottom right corner that reads, "Artist Rendering." That overlay appeared to have been cropped from the video on TikTok:

Screenshot 2024-02-08 at 11.06.01 AM.png

(Source: YouTube screenshot taken Thu Feb 8 18:06:01 UTC 2024)

Though the video above was an artistic rendering depicting CubeSats, the microsatellites are a genuine technology described (archived here) by NASA as:

... a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites are spacecraft sized in standardized units or Us, typically up to 12U. A CubeSat unit is defined as a volume of about 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm and typically weighs less than 2 kg.

NASA wrote that there have since been over 150 CubeSats launched as part of the CubeSat Launch Initiative (archived here), an educational opportunity to conduct scientific investigations and technology demonstrations in space with educational institutions and non-profit organizations.

Lead Stories contacted NASA for further information regarding CubeSats but did not receive a response at the time of publication. We will update the article accordingly.

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Other Lead Stories fact checks related to NASA can be read here.

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  Madison Dapcevich

Raised on an island in southeast Alaska, Madison grew up a perpetually curious tidepooler and has used that love of science and innovation in her now full-time role as a science reporter for the fact-checking publication Lead Stories.

Read more about or contact Madison Dapcevich

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