China denies faking Moon photo

China denies faking Moon photo

Tin-foil hat brigade cries foul

China has officially denied rumours that it faked a photograph apparently taken from its satellite in orbit around the Moon.

Ever since the Chang'e-1 satellite photo was released, there have been rumblings on the internet that the image was copied from an earlier American survey.

China pointed to a double asteroid crater which is not consistent with existing knowledge of the Moon as proof that the image is genuine.

"There is absolutely no forgery," Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist for the lunar probe, told the Beijing News.

"Maybe it is because the resolution of the American photo was not high enough, or a new pit might have been generated by an asteroid hitting the moon between 2005 and 2007.

"I understand the doubts of the internet surfers. They hope the Chinese lunar probe can do well so they don't want the photo to turn out to be fake."

The photo was created by matching strips of images taken along a particular line of longitude. But it has been suggested that the Chinese photographic lab slightly misaligned one of the strips, thus giving the appearance of a double crater.

Emily Lakdawalla, from the Planetary Society, said: "The Chang'e image is not a fake as far as I can tell.

"My opinion, based on the evidence I was able to dig up, is that the Chinese do have an orbiter at the Moon and that it is producing really beautiful images.

"But the one released image is a processed product, and was altered slightly to make it pretty. This alteration made it difficult for a scientist to realise that what appeared to be a new feature was in fact an artefact."