NASA has admitted that a photograph on its website claiming to show Mount Everest as visible from the International Space Station wrongly identifies the mountain.
The space agency had displayed a photograph of a mountain range taken by astronaut Yuri Malenchenko, explaining that the picture showed Mount Everest dusted with snow.
However, as the photograph spread on the Internet, social media reports from Nepal highlighted that a mistake had been made, with journalist Kunda Dixit tweeting: “Sorry guys, but the tall peak with the shadow in the middle is not Mt Everest.”
NASA today confirmed that a mistake had been made, with a spokesperson admitting to the AFP that: “It is not Everest. It is Saser Muztagh, in the Karakoram Range of the Kashmir region of India.”
The Karakoram Range – on the Indian border of China and Tibet – is some 1,300 kilometres away from Everest.
NASA did not explain how such a mistake had been made, but simply added: “The view is in mid-afternoon light looking northeastward.”
The photograph was taken down from the website following the admission.
Taking photographs of Everest from space can prove an elusive task, according to a number of astronauts. Valentin Lebedev – in space in 1973 and 1982 – famously noted: “How many people dream of conquering Everest, so that they can look down from it, and yet for us from above it was difficult to even locate.”
Recent International Space Station inhabitant Ron Garan also missed the chance to snap Everest from space, and explained the difficulties in scoring the coveted picture to the Atlantic.
“All the photos we take from space are taken in the crew’s own personal time. No time is allotted in our work day normally for Earth pictures,” he said.
“So if we want to capture a specific point on the ground we have to first know exactly when we will fly over that spot, second be available to grab a camera and get to a window, and third have the weather and proper sun angles to get a great shot. Over the course of my six months in space I was never able to get all three of those to align for Mt. Everest.”