North Korea has made a huge mistake, and it’s hilarious. Photographs of last week’s Hwasong-15 missile test have been tampered with, an analyst told CNN.
Marco Langbroek, a space expert tracking North Korea’s missile program, told CNN that there is a huge error in the photographs that North Korean state media released last week. Langbroek noticed that the stars in the images taken from opposite sides of the missile launch should have shown constellations on the opposite sides in the sky, but that was not the case.
More evidence of tampered #Hwasong15 imagery: two images, mirrors of each other (look at exhaust plume, lack of number on missile body 2nd image) so opposite viewpoints. Yet starfield in background both south-southeast, Orion and Canis major (but with Sirius missing!)@planet4589 pic.twitter.com/ZqfygbOwFa
— Dr Marco Langbroek (@Marco_Langbroek) December 5, 2017
Early Wednesday morning, North Korea tested Hwasong-15 which is believed to be the most technologically advanced long-range ballistic missile. The missile reached an altitude of 4,475 kilometers (2800 miles). This puts the whole US mainland in range.
Langbroek has been investigating the photos since their release last week. Something wasn’t quite right in the photos. When shooting stars, photographers must use a longer exposure to let light in. However, using this would capture any movement as a blur. When capturing a missile launch, photographers use a wide-open aperture and fast shutter speeds, leading to stars not being clearly visible like they are in the photos North Korea published.
“‘They looked so crisp, that just didn’t seem right to me,’ said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who corresponds with Langbroek.”
Not all the images were tampered with. One shot of Hwasong-15 does show the stars, but also includes blurry people. This means that the photo was taken consistent with the needs of a night-sky.
This is not the first time that North Korea has altered an image. They’ve tampered with everything from Kim Jong Un’s ears to hovercrafts conducting an amphibious landing.
It’s unsure why North Korean officials tampered with the photograph, but aesthetics is what is speculated. However, it’s possible that by using a different reference point, Pyongyang could be trying to throw everyone off.
Analysts use background landmarks to determine where the missile is launched, which helps them calculate everything from range to payload. However, using stars for this is much more complicated.