By: Ishita Goel
March 13 2023
The image shows the launch of the Grace-FO spacecraft from California's Vandenberg in May 2018 and has no connection with Turkey.
Social media users have been sharing an image of a vertical laser light in the sky, claiming that it shows an incident in Turkey. Several Facebook and Twitter users captioned it, "Something came down from the sky in Turkey," and suggested it could be a UFO.
This image is shared in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria on February 6, followed by smaller tremors and aftershocks. While scientists have attributed the quake to natural reasons, several social media users falsely claimed that the earthquake was caused by High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP). The image of the light in the sky appears to be linked with false claims about the cause of the earthquake.
However, the light does not capture "something" coming down from the sky, and the image is neither recent nor taken in Turkey.
Using a reverse image search, we found that the viral image is originally from May 22, 2018. Stock image website Alamy published the image with the caption, "The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the NASA German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft launches from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base May 22, 2018, in Vandenberg, California."
Technology news and information website Ars Technica published the image in a September 2019 newsletter about rockets, captioning it: "A Falcon 9 rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base." We also found the same image in a May 22, 2018, report on the rocket launch by website Digital Trends.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory posted a video of the launch and wrote that on May 22, 2018, Falcon 9 with GRACE-FO (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-on) took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's Central Coast. This rocket was launched in collaboration between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).
A long exposure photograph of the launch, published by NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, when compared to the viral image, shows that it is the rocket launch. The vertical light is of a rocket going into space and not "something" coming down, as claimed in the posts.
A photograph of a rocket launch from 2018 has been used to share the false claim that "something" came down from the sky in Turkey, possibly linked to the earthquake. Further, the image has no connection with Turkey and was captured in California. Thus, we have marked the claim as false.