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On July 21, Italian cosmonaut Samantha Cristoforetti became the first European woman to perform a spacewalk. On the occasion of this release, Internet users shared an impressive selfie which, according to them, would have been taken during his mission. It is actually a photomontage that has been circulating for several years.

Verification in a nutshell

  • Since July 21, 2022, the date of the spacewalk led by Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian astronaut, users have been sharing a selfie that they believe was taken by the latter during her mission.
  • It is actually a photomontage published in 2014 and made from a photograph taken in September 2012. This fake photograph has since been shared many times to spread false information.

The details of the check

“It’s a dream come true!”. It is with these words, posted on his Twitter account, that cosmonaut Samantha Cristoforetti celebrated her very first spacewalk. On July 21, she became the first European woman to carry out such a mission.

Impressive images of this event were subsequently shared on social networks. But since July 21, some users have also been posting a selfie that Samantha Cristoforetti would have taken when she left the International Space Station.

Screenshot of one of the tweets, posted on July 25, 2022, sharing this fake cosmonaut selfie.
Screenshot of one of the tweets, posted on July 25, 2022, sharing this fake cosmonaut selfie. © Observers

Where does this photograph actually come from? To find out, you have to perform a reverse image search (see here how to do it) using different search engines such as Google Images or TinEye.

This research allows to find the exact origin of the selfie. It was taken on September 5, 2012 during a spacewalk by Japanese cosmonaut Aki Hoshide. Posted on the NASA websitethe legend of this photo indicates that one of the arms of the International Space Station had then been equipped with a camera which therefore took this photo.

Screenshot of the NASA website on which this selfie was published, taken on September 5, 2012.
Screenshot of the NASA website on which this selfie was published, taken on September 5, 2012. ©NASA

The selfie published in recent days on social networks is therefore in reality a photomontage made from this image. In particular, we find exactly the same reflection in the helmet of the cosmonaut.

The reverse image search also makes it possible to find the author of this photomontage. This is the artist Robert Jahns who, on April 23, 2014, published it on his Instagram account. Since that date, its publication has been diverted on numerous occasions to illustrate cosmonaut outings. For instance, from February 2015, articles incorrectly attributed this fake selfie to cosmonaut Samantha Cristoforetti. Netizens also claimed in 2017 that Thomas Pesquet was the person behind this space suit.

But not all Italian Internet users have fallen into the trap. Since July 21, some have made fun of these publications sharing this fake selfie, for example by photoshopping their own personalities.

Screenshot of one of the tweets, here posted on July 27, 2022, mocking the fake posts related to Samantha Cristoforetti's spacewalk.
Screenshot of one of the tweets, here posted on July 27, 2022, mocking the fake posts related to Samantha Cristoforetti’s spacewalk. © Observers

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