A Russian news channel showed what appears to be a satellite photo of the moment that MH17 was shot down by a fighter jet!
So, does the photo prove it?
Well, there is no identifiable source for the photo to start with, so really the only option is to look at it and see if it seems plausible…
My first thought is that they scale doesn’t seem quite right – so let’s look at that… In the large version of the satellite photo the fighter jet (which appears to be an SU-27 not the MIG-29 that some article claim) is approximately 82 pixels nose-to-tail, while the alleged MH17 is 386 pixels nose-to-tail.
That is a ratio of 1:4.7 – the jetliner is 4.7x longer than the fighter jet. Or put another way, if the aircraft is a Boeing 777-200ER (63.7m length) then each pixel is 16.5cm, which means that the fighter jet is 13.5m long.
An SU-27 is 21.9m long, while a MIG-29 is 17.4m long. Immediately that seems to suggest the image is fake.
Another thing that occurred to me was that the image appeared to be perfectly aligned to North, something I don’t think would typically be the case with military satellite photos necessarily. It basically looks like a Google Maps image.
Indeed, a Twitter user observed that one of the clouds visible in the photograph appears also in Google Earth imagery of the same location. I was able to verify this myself.
So my next question was where did the source photos come from?
So… Does this “satellite photo” prove that MH17 was shot down by a fighter jet? Nope, it’s fake.
The following information has been added since the first publication of this post…
It has been pointed out by another Reddit user that the timestamp on the image is “UTC 1:19:47” which would be the middle of the night, 12 hours before the incident occurred.
Here is a great breakdown of some of the same issues, and more: https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2014/11/14/russian-state-television-shares-fake-images-of-mh17-being-attacked
And another great article on the fakery: http://www.whathappenedtoflightmh17.com/proof-the-russian-tv-satellite-photo-of-mh17-is-fake/