Flat-Earthers claim, confidently, that there are no real pictures of the Earth from space. Which is, of course, poppycock, a claim made with no evidence, and stemming from gross ignorance of photography, scale, digital imaging, and the history of both manned and unmanned space travel.
There is no sense arguing this point with a dyed-in-the-wool flat-Earther; any image you show them is CGI or a painting, any explanation is an excuse or an outright lie.
But to those who are at least willing to listen, let's point out some of the more outrageous examples of what passes for proof of NASA fakery.
All Images Of Earth Are Composites
The first fallacy here is that composite is the same as fake. In fact, every digital color photo is a composite, and that's the sort of compositing used to create color images from Himawari-8 and DISCOVR, among others.
Some famous images of the Earth are composites of strips of satellite data digitally pasted together to form a single image. The Earth image dubbed "Blue Marble II" is such an image, and certain portions had to be cloned to fill in gaps in the data.
This has many flat-Earthers and space-hoaxers crying foul, as if the manipulation of available image data to create one single image, at a time in history when no camera could produce a single, full-hemisphere color photo of the Earth, negates every other photo of the Earth, and (in some conspiracy circles), everything else any space agency has ever said or done.
Much has been made of the fact that the artist who created this image was using "data" instead of "photographs." Really? Everyone who processes or manipulates digital photos refers to the image information as data. That's what digital photography does: it converts light into data. It doesn't mean the data are made up. Pick up your phone, snap a picture, you now have picture data. Open Instagram, crop, add a filter, and you've just manipulated the data. Does that mean that whatever you took the picture of does not actually exist? Nonsense.
And, of course, there were pictures of the entire Earth shot on film, starting in 1968, then brought back, processed in a lab, and printed. That practice stopped in 1972. Why? Because we stopped sending humans that far into space, and probes and satellites don't send film back to the lab, that's why.
The flat-Earthers, naturally, will claim that these famous photographs are paintings. Paintings, no less. I invite you to look at the Apollo archives on Flickr. Thousands of photographs, scanned directly from the original reversal 70mm films at 1800 dpi.
There, in a roll of film from Apollo 17, you will find not one but several shots of the planet Earth. These were not, as Bart Sibral so stupidly suggests, shot out of a round window in low-Earth orbit, for the Command Module had no round windows.
They are not all great shots. In fact, absent cropping by an art director, they are all pretty lousy. But one of them got picked to be the original "Blue Marble."
And that was just one mission. Apollo 8 took Earth's first full-length portrait. It's in the archives, too, somewhere. There are so many that it's actually hard to discern which one was published.
And yet, for the flat-Earth and space-hoax claims to be true, every single one of these has to be fake. And not CGI in this case, unless you want to posit that CGI and film scanning had reached this level in 1968.
And, "well, you don't know what kind of technology NASA had" doesn't constitute proof.
So let's look at some of the other "evidence" that flat-Earthers like to offer.
Relative Size Of the Moon and Earth
Just last year, the NOAA satellite DSCOVR, as one of it's very earliest transmissions, captured images of the moon transiting the Earth.
Space-hoaxers and flat-Earthers immediately labeled it as a fake for various reasons—the moon is not bright enough, no shadow on the Earth, not enough cloud movement, the moon is moving faster than the Earth's rotation—which I'll address presently. But the one that keep returning in memes, is the relative size of the moon and Earth in the DSCOVR shot compared with this:
This is earthrise as captured on film by the crew of Apollo 8. The argument goes that the relative size of the moon and Earth should not change from shot to shot. Actually, the argument is usually more along the lines of "did the moon shrink between 1968 and 2015?"
What seems to have shrunk is understanding of the basic principles of perspective and the effect of lens choice on photography. First, a couple of quick stats: the 1968 image was taken with a 70 mm film camera with a 250 mm lens, from moon orbit, so the distance to the Earth is somewhere in the neighborhood of 240,000 miles (I could get closer with some research, but in this case the exact distance isn't important).
The 2015 image was shot with a 1-inch sensor array. The focal length of the lens is in the neighborhood of 2800 mm, and the distance to the Earth was around 1,000,000 miles, and the distance to the moon about 750,000 miles. The effects of this should be obvious, but if you don't get it at this point, bear with me.
Consider this image:
We know that the golf ball is smaller than the baseball, but because the golf ball is closer to the camera than the baseball is, the baseball appears smaller. And now, without moving either ball:
The golf ball is still closer to the camera than the baseball, but now the camera is much further away from both, and we've zoomed in. The golf ball is now clearly smaller than the baseball, although the apparent size difference is still smaller than the actual size difference, because the golf ball is closer to the camera.
This is exactly the effect we see in the two shots of the Earth, one from very close to the moon, and one from very far away. You can duplicate this yourself; it's just simple perspective at work. There really is no mystery.
What of the other objections? The moon is not bright enough? Well the moon is not, actually, bright. It only reflects about 11% of the light that falls on it. It just looks bright compared with the night sky when we see it from Earth. No shadow? There is a shadow on the Earth from the moon. It's behind the moon because the sun is behind the camera. That's where DSCOVR is, between the sun and the Earth. Cloud motion? You're not really seeing individual clouds, just major storm systems. They don't move that much, relative to the size of the entire face of the planet, in the six hours of this transit. And as for the moon moving faster than the Earth's rotation? Well, it just does.
The surface of the Earth passes by the camera at over 1100 miles per hour at the equator. And it takes 27 days for the moon to circle the Earth. But, and I think this is the point that's lost on flat-Earthers, it has to travel about 1.5 million miles in those 27 days, which means it's moving more than 2300 miles per hour. Add the fact that the moon is 25% closer to the camera in this shot than the Earth, and that means that the moon will pass through the frame at least twice as fast as any feature on the Earth's surface.
Of course, none of this will convince any obsessive anti-NASA fanatic, but it shows that their objection are based on nothing other than ignorance.
Why Not Just Turn the Hubble Telescope Around And Take a Picture Of the Earth?
Boy, it just sounds so easy. But here's another experiment you can do yourself to see if this makes any sense. First, a couple of numbers. The Earth is about 7900 miles in diameter. The Hubble is orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 347 miles. That is to say, the Hubble is orbiting at about .044 Earth diameters.
Now, take a basketball, which has a diameter of about 9.5 inches. Hold a camera at .044 basketball diameters away from it's surface. That's less than half an inch. Now take a picture of the entire basketball. That's what flat-Earthers are asking NASA to do, and furthermore,they are asking them to do it with an instrument designed to collect light from deep space.
The Changing Globe Meme
Here is a popular meme among the "space doesn't exist" crowd:
The meme makes a big deal out of the fact that the pictures look different. But they were acquired using different methods and, again, as these come from media outlets, color-corrected by different art directors. That explains the colors. Let's address the other questions posed in the meme:
How big is America? Same size as it always it. If you perceive it as a different size from one image to the next, you have to consider that this is a two-dimensional image of a three-dimensional object, and is, of necessity, distorted. The nature of the distortion depends on the angle with respect to the Earth, and the distance from the camera to the Earth. You don't have to take my word for it; get a globe and a camera with a zoom lens, and take pictures of the globe from various angles and distances.
What color are the oceans, and the land? Again, it depends on the art director who did the color correction before the image was published. This isn't just true of images of the Earth; it's true of any image prepared for publication in national media. The reason you don't see as much variation in, for example, the skin tones in pictures of people, is that we all have seen people and have a much clearer idea of what skin tones look like. The colors of the Earth from space are more subject to interpretation, since only a relative handful of people have ever actually been there.
Why is there never any real video of the Earth spinning, only still? Because that's a lot of data to send from a satellite, the only object that could broadcast such a video, which would then need to be processed and stored, and there's no reason for that. It would be worse than watching paint dry. Any feature moving across the face of the Earth would take twelve hours to get from one side to the other.
The Himawari-8 transmits an image every ten minutes. Furthermore, the satellite is not up there to take pretty picture to satisfy some fanatic who might have gotten the idea that the Earth is flat; its 16-channel multi-spectral camera is there to do real scientific research. Satellites aren't in space for fun; they're there to do a job.
The other questions aren't worth addressing any further. Here you have people making fantastical claims about the nature of the Earth, and the best they have to offer is some ignorant memes.
And the ever-present tactic of calling all contrary evidence the product of some great conspiracy.
ADDENDUM: It has been pointed out to me that early Apollo CM capsules had a 10-1/2-inch round window on the hatch. I stand corrected; Apollo 14 and later craft had a rounded square window on the hatch. So, does this mean that Bart Sibrel could have been right? Well, let's think about that.
First of all, if you're sitting in the seats in the CM, where is the hatch? Imagine that you are in a very small car with a sunroof. The hatch window is where the sunroof is. So, you have this camera. What kind of camera? Well, the footage used in A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Moon was shot with a 16mm film camera. One of the lenses available to the crew was a 5mm wide-angle lens. So, this sounds like it could be plausible. If you crouched down as much as you could and held the camera straight at the hatch, you could manage to get the whole circle in, with just a couple of inches to spare on each side.
But there are a few problems that show up when you actually look at the footage. One is that there's a lot more than a couple inches around that circle. To get that shot, you'd have to turn yourself around, lie with your back on the seat, with no place to put your legs to keep them out of the shot. Good luck with that.
Then there is the fact that the circle is wandering around in the shot, because it was being done handheld. Had that actually been a portion of the Earth shot through a circle, the image inside the circle would have shifted around. Try shooting a distance object through round opening and you'll see what I mean.
Speaking of shifting around, a craft in low-Earth orbit is moving around 17,000 miles an hour, just like the ISS. So why isn't the image of the Earth moving past the window? I think the answer is obvious.
Also obvious is that the image of the Earth, well, isn't round. It's not a fully-lit hemisphere, which is precisely the illusion you'd get if you shot through a round window. Add all of this up, and it doesn't pass the laugh test.
And one more thing: this has nothing to do with a flat Earth. There is no low-Earth orbit on a flat Earth. Even Sibrel thinks that flat-Earthers are crazy.