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Space Government Politics

Chinese Moon Photo Doctored, Crater Moved 272

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the publicity-stunts dept.
mytrip writes "A controversy over last week's photo of the lunar surface, allegedly from China's lunar spacecraft Chang'e, appears to be resolved. It's real but it isn't. An expert says the photo's resolution shows that it is of recent origin. However, for some inexplicable reason, someone on Earth edited the photo and moved a crater to a different location. 'In the week since the picture was released amid much fanfare in Beijing, there have been widespread rumors that the photo was a fake, copied from an old picture collected by a U.S. space probe. The photo from China's Chang'e 1 orbiter is clearly a higher-resolution view, with sunlight streaming from the northwest rather than the north. The mission's chief scientist, Ouyang Ziyuan, told the Beijing News that a new crater had been spotted on the Chang'e imagery — a crater that didn't appear on the US imagery. Lakdawalla determined that the crater in question wasn't exactly new — instead, it appeared to be a crater that had been moved from one spot on the picture to another spot slightly south.'"
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Chinese Moon Photo Doctored, Crater Moved

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:39PM (#21590301)
    It's a space station.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
    • by DrYak (748999) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @06:59PM (#21591675) Homepage
      ...That's because they didn't use the same original sound stage as NASA's faking of the moon, but soom cheap Chinese Z-movie knock-off. With Philipino actors.

      ...Yeah, but moving the crater a little bit further south made whole moon a lot more Feng Shui [wikipedia.org]. Letting the Qi flow freely.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rei (128717)
        The thing is, they *didn't* move it. Slashdot horribly botched and distorted the reporting of the original article [planetary.org] by Emily Lackdawalla in its header. Slashdot calls it "doctored". Emily calls it nothing of the sort.

        What happens is that the spacecraft are moving around the moon and capturing long strips of images beneath them along their orbit. In this case, there were 19 strips. To make a single coherent image out of them, you have to stitch them back together. Anyone who's ever used a panorama stitc
  • Coverup! (Score:5, Funny)

    by spun (1352) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `yranoituloverevol'> on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:41PM (#21590321) Journal
    They moved it to cover up the obelisk!
  • by xENoLocO (773565) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:41PM (#21590327) Homepage
    ... who on earth would do such a thing?
    • by ackthpt (218170) *
      Pride goeth before a fall. They should have checked more carefully before trumpeting their success. That egg on the face is mixed with Krazy Glue.
      • by tekiegreg (674773) *
        Even so it's fairly shortsighted of China, assuming they created a fake so good it thwarted the best efforts on Earth to determine the picture offhand, there are one of 2 things that would have debunked this new crater.

        A) A high enough resolution telescope certainly wouldn't lie, corroborated from multiple international telescopes at high enough resolution and the chinese look stupid.

        B) Assuming the Chinese thwart the telescope option (nothing high enough resolution to look at the crater), someday we
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Let's say you were born in China. You're an only child. You have two parents and four grandparents doting on you. Sometimes they even call you a spoiled little emperor.

      They instill in you the legacy of Confucianism, especially the values of hierarchy and hard work. They send you off to school. You learn that it takes phenomenal feats of memorization to learn the Chinese characters. You become shaped by China's intense human capital policies.

      You quickly understand what a visitor understands after dozens of c
      • Re:Well, now... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Loke the Dog (1054294) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @06:08PM (#21591271)
        Yes, an intersting article by David Brooks. But what was your point?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @06:19PM (#21591367)
        Which is why China is a mature fascist country as opposed to a communist country.

        see http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=105001682 [opinionjournal.com]

        Snippet:
        China is not, as is invariably said, in transition from communism to a freer and more democratic state. It is, instead, something we have never seen before: a maturing fascist regime. This new phenomenon is hard to recognize, both because Chinese leaders continue to call themselves communists, and also because the fascist states of the first half of the 20th century were young, governed by charismatic and revolutionary leaders, and destroyed in World War II. China is anything but young, and it is governed by a third or fourth generation of leaders who are anything but charismatic.

        The current and past generations of Chinese leaders, from Deng Xiaoping to Jiang Zemin, may have scrapped the communist economic system, but they have not embraced capitalism. To be sure, the state no longer owns "the means of production." There is now private property, and, early last June, businessmen were formally admitted to the Communist Party. Profit is no longer taboo; it is actively encouraged at all levels of Chinese society, in public and private sectors. And the state is fully engaged in business enterprise, from the vast corporations owned wholly or in part by the armed forces, to others with top management and large shareholders simultaneously holding government jobs.

        This is neither socialism nor capitalism; it is the infamous "third way" of the corporate state, first institutionalized in the 1920s by the founder of fascism, Benito Mussolini, then copied by other fascists in Europe.
      • Let's say you take a editorial by David Brooks [nytimes.com] and paste it in without attribution.
  • spoiler alert (Score:5, Informative)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:41PM (#21590329)
    SPOILER: It was a poor stitch/blend job.
    • Bad summary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:50PM (#21590453)
      "Doctored" suggests deliberate fiddling with the data to mislead.

      It seems here that this is actually just a result of a vanilla screw-up.

      "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity". Though instead of "stupidity" I'd substitute "error".

      • by Radon360 (951529)

        Though instead of "stupidity" I'd substitute "error".

        How about a mistake made while caught up in the exuberance of the moment?

      • by grumpyman (849537)
        Thanks for spotting this out. I'm not sure wtf is wrong with /. editors and a lot of the submitters that post apparent flame-bait and anti-Chinese propaganda when they seize the chance.
        • Re:Bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

          by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @06:53PM (#21591633)

          I'm not sure wtf is wrong with /. editors
          Read the FAQ [slashdot.org] - the editors specifically deny any attempts at fact checking. Slashdot exists to post interesting stuff fast, not accurately.
          • by 1u3hr (530656)
            Read the FAQ - the editors specifically deny any attempts at fact checking.

            So a small print disclaimer makes it all right to be incompetent and careless?

            Well, the real question then is why they call themselves "editors".

            If they just called themselves "webmasters", moderators", etc, they would not raise any expectations. Even so, if one does press the publish button, and your name appears below it, one does endorse it in some way. And one thing the Slashdot "editors" quite often do is rewrite the head

      • > "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity". Though instead of "stupidity"
        > I'd substitute "error".

        Sure way to be caught completely off guard by the eventual malice :)

        I live by
        "When widespread madness is the only official excuse, try looking for a better theory".

      • Re:Bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

        by OriginalArlen (726444) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @07:30PM (#21591893)
        this story is baloney [planetary.org].
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bheekling (976077)
        Indeed, it's frustrating how /. authors seem to like generating spin and controversy. Pure hits and revenue game.
        If I didn't know /. was really just a blog, I would have said it's bad journalism at its best.
    • Re:spoiler alert (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @05:24PM (#21590819)
      Maybe someone could explain to me the implication in the article that the data is scientifically useless. If it's just a bad stitch job done back here on Earth it would seem they would still have the original data and could reperform the stitch no? Even if they don't all the data between the stitches is still good which I would imagine is probably what the real researchers use anyway.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gEvil (beta) (945888)
        The image as currently released by China is scientifically useless, since there are known errors within it. If a new image were to be released that was known to be done correctly, then it could potentially be scientifically useful.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rei (128717)
        They do, and they've announced intent to release it. This was just an image for public consumption -- and really, the standard for releasing images for public consumption is to blend the seams. For scientific images, you leave the seams unblended.

        The only problem here was that one of their own scientists mistook a stitching error in their public product for an actual feature without consulting the raw data. That's all there is to this story. Everyone wants to turn it into another chance to bash China, t
  • Feng Shui (Score:5, Funny)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:41PM (#21590331) Homepage Journal
    probably a feng shui thing.
  • See? (Score:5, Funny)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:42PM (#21590343)
    They should have used the original movie set in New Mexico.
  • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:44PM (#21590363) Homepage
    Haven't cartographers been known to put little errors like this in on purpose so they can tell if someone has copied their map? Still seems pretty silly to do it with such scientific data, but we know that China has no qualms manipulating any other kind of information.
    • by prelelat (201821) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:51PM (#21590457)
      If it isn't an obvious photoshop who's to say that the US didn't manipulate their original so that they would know if someone else was using their pictures instead of making their own. I could see the U.S. doing this to see if a government said they had technology that they did not.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Yahma (1004476)
      The Chinese government have been doctoring photos [jiyuu-shikan.org] for political reasons at least since the 1940's.
    • by mikael (484)
      They do that on ordnance survey maps - one of their favorite tricks is to flip round the orientation of a building (especially corporate office blocks). There's nothing worse than trying to take a taxi from a railway station, only to spend 15 minutes driving in circles because the map is wrong (and it's obviously wrong because the non-symmetrical shape of the building has been rotated/flipped from what it actually is).
  • by postbigbang (761081) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:44PM (#21590371)
    You know those crazy craters, getting legs and all. Happens all the time.
  • Bad Astonomy (Score:5, Informative)

    by jawtheshark (198669) * <slashdot@nospam.jawtheshark.com> on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:45PM (#21590379) Homepage Journal
    Bad Astonomy [badastronomy.com] readers are already up to date. It's an error in composition of the picture [badastronomy.com]. Nothing less, nothing more.
  • by wcrowe (94389) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:45PM (#21590385)
    The main difference between Chinese and American moon missions: 30 minutes after the Chinese have explored the moon, they feel like exploring it again.

    • by gardyloo (512791)
      Well, it adds a lot to the replayability value.
    • I thought that was the problem with 18-year-olds' moon missions.

      Great. Now I have to keep my wife from talking to her Chinese friends, or I'm going to have to deal with *yet another* comparative inadequacy.
    • Fortunately it's too far for them to camp, and they havent figured out that there is no loot on the moon(save for the US mission).
  • by Zouden (232738) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:49PM (#21590427)
    The US version looks way more realistic.
  • TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by sporkme (983186) * on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:49PM (#21590437) Homepage

    Lakdawalla found that a mistake was apparently made in stitching together the 19 strips of imagery to produce the finished picture - and that Chinese officials unknowingly pointed out that mistake as they defended the photo's veracity.
    Not a fake, not an intentional edit, and a moronic blunder in trying to prove authenticity.
  • Oblig. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:51PM (#21590461)
  • by iamacat (583406) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @04:58PM (#21590525)
    As per the TFA, a mistake was made stitching together 19 separate photographs to produce image of a large area of the moon that the probe could not have captured in one shot. Since each picture is taken at slightly different angle and distance from the surface, some retouching is unavoidable. Otherwise some craters will look like a weird set of arcs with different radius rather than circles. Such stretching got to slightly move some depicted object from their exact position. In fact, it is not possible to produce a flat picture of a 3D object without distortions. Just compare the size and shape of Alaska on your globe as compared to your map.

    I would assume that you can request the original mission data for serious research use instead of having to rely on newspaper clippings for science. If those images are also doctored, then we have a genuine controversy.
    • by ultranova (717540)

      In fact, it is not possible to produce a flat picture of a 3D object without distortions.

      Of course it is. The surface of a cube, for example, can be projected to a plane without distortion.

      • by iamacat (583406)
        Well, adjacent features will certainly appear very far from each other in your projection.
  • Doctored my ass (Score:5, Informative)

    by cats2ndlife (995125) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @05:00PM (#21590553)
    The original article says and suggests nothing about the photo being "doctored", it's simply a mistake that scientists make all the time. When can we expect a better moderated Slashdot or people who can read?
  • by DRJlaw (946416) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @05:01PM (#21590559)
    The summary almost criminally neglects to include the reported reason for doing this, which is entirely legitimate:

    Often, surface features that show up on two strips of data have to be manually corrected to produce the finished image, due to subtle changes in perspective.

    "You know that there should have been seams in that image, and I just did not look for them carefully at the time," Lakdawalla told me today.


    If you've ever viewed satellite imagery, you'll recognize that the source images are not nice, ultrahigh resolution wide arc views, but instead low resolution wide arc views or high resolution narrow arc views. The 'recognizable' product that is released to a nontechnical public, such as the images used in Google Earth, are the result of post-processing including image registration, tone correction, etc. See this article [incaindia.org] on mosaicing multi-sensor images, for example.

    Surprise. Some technician made a mistake. No cookie.

  • by Radon360 (951529) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @05:01PM (#21590575)

    I realize that it goes against the general Slashdot commenting procedure, but read just a little before commenting on this one, please.

    1. Two photos were poorly stitched together, repeating an image of a crater on the combined photo (the crater was photographed twice).
    2. Chinese scientists miss the poor stitch job and proclaim they found a new crater.
    3. Someone else takes a close look at this "discovery" and points out the error in the stitch job.

    The crater wasn't intentionally added, it's a result of trying to align two photos, each taken from a different perspective in which the edges won't completely line up exactly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gnuman99 (746007)
      They not only stitched it wrong, they also retouched the merge lines making the resulting image *useless* scientifically. It is just a nice picture now that one may as well have drawn. You can't do any measurements with it as all relative information is basically lost through their effort to make it prettier.
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      Yes, this happens to international space photography every now and then too -- from the US, Europe, Russia... Often it's actually far more noticeable than in this case, and I seriously think that the controversy of this case actually comes from that the stitching is so *little* noticeable. That can make people come up with conspiracy theories. They probably wouldn't if the stitching was far more obvious, like from someone combining two images with even more differing perspectives [wikimedia.org] (see the northern parts of
  • huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @05:02PM (#21590587)
    ..and what happens if they actually do find anything new? hello! Boy who cried wolf syndrome....

    pffffft. that was the sound of their credability dying a death.

    its sad really, somewhere in China there are some *very* capable engineers holding their heads in their hands.
  • ...but the URL is a MS blog, and I banned myself from these years ago.
  • Open the image and Photoshop. Use the rubber stamp tool to remove some 'imaginary' seams. It is pretty easy to replicate the mistake and easy to understand how it could be made. The Chinese scientists should have verified their findings with the original un-stitched images before taking it to the press.
  • by NewbieV (568310)
    That's no Moon! [lego.com]
  • the Chinese photoshopped-out the secret alien moonbase where all the UFO's come from.
    Everyone knows NASA have been sucessfully editing out alien content from all their space imagery since the 60's.
    Th CIA were afriad that the Chinese would finally blow the game by releasing unedited images of aliens on the moon to the public.
    It was only when Bush threatened trade sanctions on the import of fortune cookies that the Chinese agreed to also edit all imagery.
  • Quick! (Score:3, Funny)

    by urcreepyneighbor (1171755) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @06:14PM (#21591337)
    Someone call Richard C. Hoagland [enterprisemission.com]!
  • I bet that some Tibetian monk is going to get beaten for this little screwup.
  • by kindbud (90044) on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @06:34PM (#21591509) Homepage
    It's called post-processing. You should go to the STSCI site and download some raw Hubble frames if you want to see some sources images that were "doctored" in the extreme to create those iconic images that adorn your calendars and desktops. The unprocessed frames are barely recognizable and contain huge amounts of visible noise from cosmic ray hits and all sorts of instrument artifacts.

    The Chinese screwed up mosaicking their imagery. Big deal. Now that they know how far up their ass the scientific community will be looking, I am sure they will strive for more rigor. Their desire to be a contributing member of the scientific community appears genuine to me.
  • They moved the crater because the Falun Gong led exercises at the original location.

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