CLAIM: NASA satellite photo shows the current wildfires raging in Australia.
THE FACTS: An image circulating on social media that shows much of Australia aglow from the ongoing wildfires was enhanced and is not a NASA photo. It is a 3D visualization made by an artist to capture and highlight the wildfires over a month.
Artist Anthony Hearsey shared the image on Instagram with details about how it was created. He said the 3D visualization was based on fire data from NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System. The image is more dramatic than the current NASA map that provides an overview of the fires because it includes fires that occurred in the country for a monthlong period, from Dec. 5, 2019, to Jan. 5. Some of them are now out.
“Scale is a little exaggerated due to the render’s glow, but generally true to the info from the NASA website,” he said on Instagram. “Also note that NOT all the areas are still burning, and this is a compilation.”
Hearsey posted the image and the explanation on Facebook, where he said he specializes in photography and post production. The image received thousands of likes and was shared widely, including by celebrities.
“The image was never intended to go viral, nor be used out of context,” Hearsey said in an email to The Associated Press. “It’s essentially a graphical interpretation of zoomed out data from NASA. Nothing more or less.”
At least 26 people have been killed and 2,000 homes destroyed by the blazes, which have so far scorched an area twice the size of the U.S. state of Maryland since September, the AP reported Friday.
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