NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars on Feb.18, and footage from the red planet has been going viral back down here on Earth.
Two days after Perseverance landed, a video titled “NASA Mars 2021 Mission | First time sounds and video of Mars” was uploaded to YouTube. It has been viewed more than 18,500 times. A slightly longer version of the video was also uploaded to Twitter, and it got 26 million views. Both videos claim to show the first audio and video from Mars. But is the viral video legit? Here’s how we fact-checked it.
First, some background information. According to NASA’s Mars 2020 mission overview, the Perseverance rover builds upon the research done by its predecessor, the Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in 2012. However, Perseverance is equipped with new technology, including microphones to record audio for the first time.
Look for clues within the footage
Since the version on Twitter is slightly longer, we took a closer look to see if it offered any clues that might not have been included in the YouTube version.
Mars, fascinating. pic.twitter.com/WSyq8Ojna2
— Anonymous (@YourAnonOne) February 19, 2021
Near the end of the video in the bottom left corner, the word “Curiosity” is visible on the rover. This means this isn’t a video from the newly-landed Perseverance rover. Instead, the viral clip came from its predecessor, Curiosity. Since Perseverance is the first rover to include microphones, it’s also not clear where the audio in the video came from.
Head straight to the source
We decided to head directly to the source of where this footage supposedly came from, and see what NASA says. Poking around NASA’s Mars Exploration Program website and searching for “Curiosity video,” we found a page titled Curiosity’s 1.8-Billion-Pixel Panorama. As it turns out, the “footage” included in that YouTube and Twitter video wasn’t originally a video at all. According to NASA’s website, the Curiosity rover instead captures panorama images.
Doing another search within NASA’s website, we found this blog post that included the actual first audio recordings from the Perseverance rover. These audio files were not released until Feb. 22, four days after the YouTube video was uploaded and three days after the tweet was published. It sounds vastly different from the audio in the video.
Try a keyword search
Next, we did a keyword search to see if we could find out more about where the audio in the viral clip came from. Using words like “mars perseverance rover video and sounds” turned up several results, including this article from USA Today. USA Today confirmed that this video is not footage from the Perseverance rover, but instead Curiosity. The article also states that the audio included is not the first sounds from Mars, since Curiosity does not have microphones. However, USA Today couldn’t find the original source of the audio.
Of course, it’s good to see what multiple sources are reporting. Mashable, Reuters and Snopes all reported that the recording of the panorama image was edited to include the audio. None were able to track down where those sounds originally came from.
MOSTLY NOT LEGIT. While this video does show Mars’ actual surface, it was not recent footage from the newly landed Perseverance rover. The video also does not feature the first recorded sounds of Mars, since those audio filings were not released until after the YouTube and Twitter videos were posted.