The Pale Blue Dot? Chapter Nineteen: Images of the Blue Marble?

Written By Thomas Perez. June 18, 2021 at 9:22PM. Copyright 2021.

A. The Claim by Flat Earthers

Previously, in chapter three, I showed the various picture images of the alleged globe Earth. However, I did not scrutinize the claims made by flat Earthers that cite the various discrepancies found in them. For I.e., the image of the Earth taken by the alleged Apollo Missions do not match the images taken recently. See the following picture…

Flat Earthers often seize upon the various discrepancies seen above in order to debunk the globe Earth model. Flat Earthers often use social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to demonstrate their opportunistic seizures. Moreover, their seizures usually take the form of various memes found on the internet. See the following meme pictures uploaded by flat Earthers who seek to debunk the globe Earth model…

There are many memes like this floating around on the internet. But it has been challenged. Recently I came across two articles debunking the flat Earthers misconception that the images are faked due to their continent mass and color changes, particularly North America. Are the images real or faked?

B. Debunking the Misconception of the Flat Earther?

Metabunk, a site that debunks various topics, including flat Earthers, cites the following…

“The misconception comes from a misunderstanding about how the photos are taken. This new 2015 image is noteworthy because it’s the first time since 1972 that a good quality single image photograph has been taken of the Earth. The previous last image (in 1972) was taken by an astronaut from on board the Apollo 17 spacecraft during the last manned mission to the Moon. This was the first image called the Blue Marble although there had been similar images taken before (such as the 1967 images taken by the ATS3 satellite), the 1972 Blue Marble image became iconic, and remains the last such image taken by an actual person.”

“But notice the 1972 image itself is rather hazy, especially when compared to the 2002 image, and the 1967 image seems less hazy too. Did the air alternate between clear and hazy in 1967, 1972, 2002, and 2015?”

“No, the difference comes down to the way the photos were taken, and what was done to them after they were taken. In particular, the bright blue 2002 image is not a photo at all. It’s a composite image made of many individual photos taken by a very low orbit satellite (Terra). The images were stitched together in three dimensions, and then various projected images were generated by computer – in much the same way that Google Earth creates images of the globe from multiple satellite images. A similar image was created in 2012 with the NPP Suomi satellite.” (1).

Moreover, Metabunk also cites…

“The 1967 image is a single photograph but taken by a very unusual camera. The ATS-3 satellite was essentially a kind of color scanner in space. It did not take photos as such, but instead “scanned” a single line across the Earth every time the satellite rotated, and then scanned another line on the next rotation, continuing for 2400 scan lines to create a complete image of the Earth. The color sensitivity was dependent on the photo-multipliers, and as you can see resulted in very dark contrast, with the oceans seeming almost black.”

“The 1972 image was taken on a traditional film camera and provides a more realistic look at the Earth. The contrast though is still very dependent on the type of film used, and possibly was slightly affected by being taken through a window.”

“The 2002 image, as noted already, is a composite image made of several images taken with the digital camera on the Terra satellite. It’s designed to look pretty. Part of this comes from the camera itself, but the contrast and color saturation has been deliberately adjusted to give the oceans a deep blue look. We can actually recreate the 2015 image with Terra images from the same day using Google Earth.” (2).

The following is a picture of the “scanning lines” used while photographing the Earth at close range. According to Metabunk, 2400 individual linear scans were used in 1967. This scanning technique is still used today to make a whole Earth ball/globe image…

“So given the vast difference between the camera systems of the 1967, 1972, 2002 and 2015 images, there’s simply no way to make any kind of direct comparison between them. This is especially true when we don’t know what post processing has been done to the image – here’s a variety of post-processing applied to four different images. It totally changes which year seems “cleaner” or “hazier”. But really the Earth has not visibly changed.” (3)

Metabunk also provides us with pictorial examples of how camera distances can change the shape of the continents; hence solidifying their debunking of the flat Earthers claim that the images are faked and are all based upon CGI technologies. See the following pictures…

Furthermore, according to Metabunk…

“This explains why South America in the 1967 image (taken 22,000 miles away) looks bigger than South America in the 2015 image (taken 930,000 miles away). (4). The following picture is the 1967 image…

The following picture is the 2015 image…

“But what about the 2002 image” directly at the bottom?

“And what about this?”

“That’s “Blue Marble 2012,” another composite image, but this time made with the Suomi NPP satellite. Is the difference here because the Suomi satellite is at a lower height compared to the Terra satellite from the 2002 images? No, the Suomi satellite at 517 miles, is actually higher than the Terra, at 438 miles. And from either of those altitudes, you’d only be able to see a relatively small part of the Earth.”

“Remember, the composite images are not real photos, they are stitched together into 3D models, and then images are rendered in the computer. So where is the camera relative to the Earth? It’s anywhere you want it to be. Since it’s a virtual camera, you can position it anywhere you want, at any altitude, and then draw the view from there. For the 2012 image, they simply moved the virtual camera to a relatively low viewpoint, and then had the computer render the view from there. You can duplicate the exact same effect in Google Earth by zooming out to about 5000 miles eye altitude.” (5)

For the full Metabunk article see the following link…

1. https://www.metabunk.org/threads/debunked-blue-marble-photos-show-a-changing-earth.6616/

2. Ibid

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid

5. Ibid.

Similarly, an article from ‘Answers in Genesis’ claim similar rebuttals…

“In search of a more plausible answer, I took these two photographs of a 12-inch diameter globe using a Nikon D3200 camera. For the photograph on the left, I used an AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens zoomed in all the way. I adjusted the distance so that the globe nearly filled the frame vertically. That distance was 16.5 feet from the globe’s center. For the image on the right, I used an AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G lens, the standard lens that comes with the camera. I zoomed that lens all the way out, which allowed me to get as close as possible to the globe while matching the size of the globe in the image on the left. That distance was 16 inches from the globe. Therefore, the photograph on the left was taken at a distance more than 12 times greater than the photograph on the right, though the globe appears around the same size. For both photographs, the camera was on a tripod adjusted so that the lens was on a horizontal line passing through the center of the globe. Notice that North America appears much larger in the photograph on the right than it does in the photograph on the left. How is that possible?” See the following picture. (6).

Moreover, Answers in Genesis also claim that…

“In similar manner, the satellite photographs that show varying sizes of terrestrial features at different times come from different spacecraft orbiting at different distances from the earth. Therefore, rather than proving that these photographs have been faked, the changing size of earth’s features proves that the photographs are not faked, because they show exactly what we expect to see if the earth is a globe photographed from different distances. Hence, the flat Earth claim about the changing sizes of features, such as North America, on satellite photos of the earth is false. This is an example of flat-Earthers using what appears at first to be a good argument in support of their model. However, like so many other flat-earth claims, it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.” (7).

6. https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/danny-faulkner/2018/08/28/nasa-changing-size-north-america-and-flat-earth/

7. Ibid.

C. Debunking the Debunkers

All of the aforementioned rebuttals against the flat Earthers claim of image discrepancies are accurate. However, there is just one major problem with their rebuttals against the flat Earther; the images of a complete Earth are from only two photographs supposedly taken from outer space from 1972 and 2015.

According to an article in Quartz…

“Pulling his iPhone out of his pocket at a conference’s cocktail reception, Robert Simmon performs a parlor trick few can match: He shows the phone’s lock screen. Up pops the image of Planet Earth that is familiar to millions—the default image on the first iPhone, which was dropped from Apple’s mobile operating system only in 2012, to the dismay of many.” “That’s one of mine,” he says.” “As it turns out, much of what one might assume about this beautiful image is not true. It wasn’t commissioned or paid for by Apple. It isn’t actually a photograph of Earth. And that blackness surrounding it? That’s not space, either.”

“Images of the Earth may seem commonplace, but there are actually very few pictures of the entire planet. The problem, Simmons said, is all the NASA earth-observing satellites are in low-earth or geostationary orbit, meaning none of them are far enough away to see a full hemisphere. The most familiar pictures of the entire Earth are from the 1960s and 1970s Apollo missions to the Moon.” (8).

The Quartz article also cites…

“As realistic as it looks, the image is a composite of four months of light data collected in 2,300 km (1,429 mi) wide bands as NASA’s Terra satellite orbited from pole to pole, and the earth rotated beneath it.” “That data was then stitched together and applied to the surface of a digital ball (emphasis T. Perez), then modified in Photoshop.” (9).

The following GIF illustrates how they perform the stitching and then apply it onto a digital ball. The digital ball is seen in the picture after the GIF

Simmons also cites…

“…there are numerous fakeries in his image. The atmosphere is Photoshop blur. Some of the clouds are collaged together using Photoshop’s clone tool to cover gaps in the satellite’s coverage. The black area around the earth is not the void of space. It is simply a background of black color that Simmons placed the earth on top of. (This is standard practice, Simmons says: most actual “photographs” of the Earth, including the Apollo images present the planet on a black background).” (10).

But who is Robert Simmons, anyway? Simmons was a NASA employee once. Him and his colleague Reto Stöckli created the image.

8. https://qz-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/qz.com/192700/the-guy-who-created-iphones-earth-image-explains-why-he-needed-to-fake-it/amp/?amp_js_v=a6&amp_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQHKAFQArABIA%3D%3D#aoh=16224231804709&amp_ct=1622423361515&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fqz.com%2F192700%2Fthe-guy-who-created-iphones-earth-image-explains-why-he-needed-to-fake-it%2F

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

“Today Simmons is a Senior Data Visualization Engineer at Planet Labs, a commercial Earth observation company in San Francisco. Prior to moving in 2014, he was employed as a Senior Program Analyst at Goddard Space Flight Center where he was affiliated with the Climate and Radiation Laboratory and the NASA Earth Observatory. While serving as a Lead Data Visualizer and information Designer at this division of NASA, Simmons is most notable for his visualization. of the Western Hemisphere of planet Earth. Well known as the Blue Marble, this image that would become the default wallpaper on the first iPhone in 2007. Furthermore, in Simmon’s field of information visualization, through his work with NASA, he strove to “help people better understand how the Earth works” (11).

11. Wiki.

NASA admits to the fakery; “In 2002, NASA scientists and visualizers stitched together strips of brand-new data, in natural color, collected over four months from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, instrument aboard Terra.” (12).

12. https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/786/blue-marble-2002/

Having established the admitted fakery of all of the images/photographs we continue with the question of land size discrepancies. “Clearly, moving the object closer to the lens makes the image become both larger and further away. As you move the object closer and closer to the focal point, the image will become further and further away. … As expected, the image moves further away and becomes much bigger than the object.” Knowing this to be a fact, one must then find out what was the make of the original camera that snapped the “Blue Marble.” The Blue Marble was taken with a 70-millimeter Hasselblad camera using an 80-millimeter Zeiss lens. (13). The photographer used a 70-millimeter Hasselblad camera with an 80-millimeter Zeiss lens. (14).

13. Wiki.

14. Ibid.

Now, according to the blogger who performed his little experiment with his toy globe Earth at Metabunk, he used a 55-200mm camera lens for a distant far away snapshot of his globe Earth and a 18-55mm camera lens for a closer snapshot of his globe Earth. That is all well and cute, but one must understand the way these lenses work; and once we do that, we will be able to find out if these discrepancies are true or false. Let us now find out what these lenses are capable of doing, starting with the 55-200mm lens.

What is the 55-200mm lens used for?

“Also known as a telephoto lens, the 55-200mm lens has an excellent focal length which lets you be as far away as you need to be from a dangerous subject. The superzoom end of the lens also lets you be as close to the scene without crossing over a restricted area, a basketball court or a football pitch perhaps.” (15).

15 https://anyshotpro.com/what-does-a-55-200mm-lens-do-tips-and-tricks-for-telephoto-photography/#:~:text=Also%20known%20as%20a%20telephoto,or%20a%20football%20pitch%20perhaps.

What is a 18-55mm lens good for?

“The 18mm is a moderate wide-angle lens that is great for landscapes, architecture, and environmental portraiture. The 55mm end makes for a short telephoto lens, ideal for compressing perspective when taking portraits or closing in on small details.” (16).

16. https://digital-photography-school.com/why-your-kit-lens-is-better-than-you-think/#:~:text=The%2018mm%20is%20a%20moderate,closing%20in%20on%20small%20details.&text=Some%20kit%20lenses%20also%20have%20another%20useful%20feature%3A%20image%20stabilization.

Now, again, according to the blogger at Metabunk, he used a 55-200 mil camera lens for a distant far away snapshot of his globe Earth and a 18-55 mil camera lens for a closer snapshot of his globe Earth, while NASA used a 70-80 mil lens. Let us compare the differences again. The 55-200 made the land mass appear smaller, while the 18-55 made the land mass appear bigger. However, we will see at the conclusion of this chapter that this argument makes very little difference. But before we do, let us compare and dig a bit deeper into the origins of these photographs, starting with the 1967 photo.

1. NASA’s first color photo of Earth, imaged in 1967 by ATS-3, was used as the cover of Whole Earth Catalog’s first edition. The ATS-3 was supposedly 21,156 mi away (22,000 mi rounded off). NASA used a 70-80 mil lens. But the 67 photo is not considered to be a true photograph of the Earth. Hence, we did not have one, that is allegedly, until the Apollo 16 – 1972 photograph, called “The Blue Marble.”

2. NASA’s 1972 image. The equipment used is documented here. (17)

17. https://history.nasa.gov/afj/ap16fj/02photoequip.html

You will note that the same lenses were supposedly used as in the 1967 photograph. But yet we still see a notable difference between the 67 and 72 photographic images.

3. NASA’s 2002 image…

This image, as we have just learned, is based upon a series of fake strips collected over a period of months in low Earth orbit. Hence, it is not an honest photograph of the Earth in its entirety.

4. NASA’s 2012 image…

This image is also fake as we have learned from Robert Simmons above – via the citation above. Even the blackness of space itself is said to be fake and created by Simmons himself.

5. NASA’s 2015 image…

Besides the 1972 Apollo 16 photograph, this is the only other image of the alleged entire Earth we have. “On July 6, 2015, DSCOVR captured its first image of planet Earth—a view of North and Central America taken at solar noon. NASA and NOAA released the photo on Monday. The two agencies say they’re still working out some final kinks (the image has a bluish tint common to uncalibrated space pictures), but that, in September, pictures should start flowing 12 to 36 hours after they’re taken.” (18).

18. https://amp-theatlantic-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/399011/?amp_js_v=a6&amp_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQHKAFQArABIA%3D%3D#aoh=16242333399635&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theatlantic.com%2Ftechnology%2Farchive%2F2015%2F07%2Four-new-and-daily-view-of-the-blue-marble%2F399011%2F

The following article is an open admission of how they faked all of the images of the Earth in between 1972 and 2015. (19).

19. https://qz-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/qz.com/458826/behold-nasas-first-image-in-decades-of-the-whole-earth/amp/?amp_js_v=a6&amp_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQHKAFQArABIA%3D%3D#aoh=16242339625891&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fqz.com%2F458826%2Fbehold-nasas-first-image-in-decades-of-the-whole-earth%2F

So, the only supposedly real images we have of the Earth are the 1972 and 2015 photographs. But are they truly legit? According to NASA, “This series of images (2015 photograph) was captured by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four-megapixel CCD camera and telescope on the DSCOVR satellite. A million miles away, NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite is the Nation’s first operational satellite in deep space. (20).

Notice the citation specifically says that the image was taken a million miles away. The size of the land mass according to what we have learned above should be smaller when taken from such a great distance – as per the Metabunk argument and rebuttal. But instead, we can clearly see North and Central America. Shouldn’t the land mass shrink considerably, as demonstrated by the Metabunkers? But they are practically the same size as the 2002 faked image that was stitched together from LEO into one composite image over a period of months.

Similarly, when we compare the 1972 “Blue Marble” image that allegedly depicts “Africa, Antarctica, and the Arabian Peninsula. Español: “La canica azul,” (21) taken from only 18,000 miles away, we can again see clearly the discrepancies of Earths land mass sizes. Now picture, if you will, the North and South American continents captured instead – they will relatively appear big at only 18,000 miles away. Now, fast forward into the year 2015. When we do, we will discover and notice that both; North and central America, still appear huge, even when taken from a million miles awayWhy is this so? Answer: Because they are really in LEO.

20. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/from-a-million-miles-away-nasa-camera-shows-moon-crossing-face-of-earth

21. Wiki.

The following is an excerpt from a video documentary entitled, ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon.’ It is…

“Perhaps the best film documenting “The Greatest Government Conspiracy of All Time.” It exposes the fact that the Apollo Moon missions were faked and provides compelling evidence from NASA’s own previously unreleased film footage showing astronauts in the Apollo capsule clearly in Earth orbit just the day before they were supposedly walking on the Moon.” 

“During the 1960s NASA faked a number of manned landings on the moon for the sake of prestige and to establish the supremacy of the United States in the area of space exploration. I am sure at the time they considered it a small white lie and were convinced that they would actually be able to go to the Moon within a few years. But now, more than fifty years later, NASA is still unable to go to the Moon; and they promise us: Quote; “Perhaps we will have the technology to go to the Moon in twenty year’s time.” Unquote.

The following 16 pictures are from the documentary. This is how they faked it in LEO. They were not 139,000 miles away as they mentioned in the video. You can clearly see that they were in LEO. The image/photograph of the Earth was taken through a small circular window and cropped to give the appearance of distance at 139,000 miles away, when in reality they were only just a few miles away in LEO – unable to penetrate the Van Allen Radiation Belts. NASA, in another video, actually admits that they have never gone through the Van Allen Belts due to its dangerous radiations. Moreover, the pictures remind me of how I was able to fake a ball Earth using a flat coin – a quarter to be exact, in chapter eight. See chapter here – The Pale Blue Dot? Chapter Eight: NASA’s Cameras, Lenses and Video Equipment; An Examination

In the following picture, they proceeded to rotate the image to give the appearance of night and day on a half lite Earth…

As the camera backs up, we can begin to see how they achieved the illusion of a faraway “ball” Earth…

Again, as the camera backs up, it reveals Buzz Aldrin up against the small circular window – hence revealing a very close Earth – as you would expect to see in LEO…

As time passed (3 years to be exact) they became more proficient in staging the illusion of space flight outside the Van Allen Radiation Belts; hence providing us with the illusionary photo of the “Blue Marble,” allegedly taken from space at 230,000 miles away. The following is a link to the actual video. It is 46:58 long. The information and the photos that I have provided can be found between the 34:00 and 46:58-minute mark into the video.

Hence, the argumentations and rebuttals by the jolly good old folks from Metabunk are faulty and lacking in any real substantial evidence. And while the argument of distances and how it relates to the given size of a particular object (in our case, land masses) as seen through a camera’s lenses is true, the admitted fakery in land mass distortions does not bolster its case. Knowing this to be a photographic fact, they continued to “play,” as it were, with Earth’s land mass sizes, fully knowing of distances and lenses as they relate to one another. But when we carefully scrutinized the only supposedly, and allegedly, real images of the Earth, via NASA’s 72 and 2015 photographs, we again see the discrepancies in land masses relative to their alleged distances when there shouldn’t be none at all. So, an 18-55 or a 55-200 lens makes very little difference when various space agency fakeries are involved.