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Video does not show a NASA cloud generation system

By BEATRICE DUPUY May 29, 2019

CLAIM: Video captures a NASA “artificial cloud generation system” that produces rain. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The video combines separate clips of rocket engine tests done at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, which as a result created clouds. 

THE FACTS: The first few seconds of the video show a test of an RS-25 rocket engine, Valerie Buckingham, NASA news chief, told The Associated Press in an email. It then cuts to footage taken by the BBC during a test of a RS-68 commercial engine. Both tests took place at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, Buckingham said.

The misleading video omits the first part of the BBC story where host Jeremy Clarkson introduces the segment, explaining it is a rocket test. Instead, the video starts as hydrogen and oxygen are being released during the RS-68 commercial engine test, forming a cloud. In about an hour, Clarkson then says in the video that in about an hour “someone in Mississippi is going to get wet.” The video then shows Clarkson in the rain. 

“NASA is playing god,” Clarkson says. “It’s making its own weather.”

But NASA never intended to create rain. The engines run on liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants, which create a steam cloud when mixed together in the combustion chamber and ignited. When the steam cloud cools off, it turns into water and can create rain “depending on the temperature and humidity at the time of the test,” Buckingham said.

Posts with the video, from an Instagram account that promotes the flat-Earth theory, began gaining traction in 2018 on Facebook where it received thousands of views. 

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

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