FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show The Hubble Space Telescope And A Satellite?

An image shared on Instagram purportedly shows the Hubble Space Telescope and a satellite.

Verdict: False

The top picture shows the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, while the bottom depicts a high-altitude balloon meant to provide Internet services.

Fact Check:

The image in the Instagram post includes two pictures: one of what looks like a plane and one of a balloon with a device attached to it. Text inside the viral image alleges, “This is the Hubble Telescope, this is a satellite,” while the caption includes hashtags that reference the baseless flat-Earth conspiracy theory.

But, contrary to the post’s claim, the top photo doesn’t show the Hubble Space Telescope, a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency, according to NASA’s website. Nor does the bottom photo depict a satellite. (RELATED: Is This Image The ‘First Ever’ Photo Of A Sunset On Mars?)

The top image, posted on NASA’s website, shows the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, also known as SOFIA. The aircraft, a modified Boeing 747SP, carries a “2.7-meter (106-inch) reflecting telescope (with an effective diameter of 2.5 meters or 100 inches),” according to NASA’s website. It flies into the stratosphere, allowing astronomers to “study the solar system and beyond in ways that are not possible with ground-based telescopes,” NASA further explains online.

The bottom picture, which does not show a satellite, can be found in a 2019 Forbes article, where the caption indicates the photo, credited to Loon, is actually a “high-altitude balloon” meant to provide Internet service. Loon, a Google-affiliated company, and Telkom Kenya deployed roughly 35 balloons to facilitate Internet access in Kenya, according to a 2020 Telkom Kenya press release. Loon’s CEO announced in a January 2021 blog post that the company was shutting down.

Pictures of the Hubble Space Telescope can be found on NASA’s website, while photos of various satellites can be seen on Getty Images.

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