3D Image of Himalayas Passed off as a Real Picture of the Mountain

The 3D image of the Himalayas was created by Christoph Hormann.

3 min read
3D Image of Himalayas Passed off as a Real Picture of the Mountain

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A photo is being circulated on social media with the claim that it is the “Himalayas from the International Space Station”.

However, we found that the claim is false, as this is not a real photo but a 3D computer artwork created by Christoph Hormann.



Several social media users have shared the photo with the claim that the Himalayas look like that from the International Space Station (ISS). Some have also shared the photo rotating it in 90 degrees with the same claim.

An archived version of the Facebook post can be found here

(Source: Facebook/Screenshot)

The claim has been shared on Twitter and Facebook and the archived links can be found here, here, and here.



On conducting a reverse image search, we came across a photo essay story by Light Art academy published on 28 December 2016. We found the image there and the watermark in the image read, ‘Copyright 2006 Christoph Hormann’.

Using his name as the keyword, we found the image on Pixels, an art marketplace. The caption on the image reads that the Himalaya is a 3D artwork created by Christoph Hormann using data obtained from satellites such as Landsat and SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission).

The Kachenjunga and Mount Everest can be seen in the foreground and background respectively. The photo was uploaded on their site on 5 October 2018.

The data has been processed into computer models using three-dimensional rendering software and then coloured and distorted to mimic the natural curvature of the Earth, it read.

The photo by Hormann is also available for sale at the SCIENCE photo LIBRARY.

Next, we looked for the photo of the Himalayas captured by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and this is how it looks.

The photo was shot by astronaut Randy “Komrade” Bresnik in December 2017.
(Source: NASA/Screenshot)

Recently, on 2 June, NASA astronaut and ISS flight engineer Mark T Vande Hei shared a picture of the snow-capped Himalayas and the caption read, "Somewhere on a clear, bright day in the Himalayas. I can't get enough views like this."


Clearly, a 3D computer artwork photo was made with the claim that the Himalayas look like that from ISS.

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