Canada red-faced after doctored space equipment image appears on govt websites

Canada red-faced after doctored space equipment image appears on govt websites
The Canadian government has had to urgently remove from its agencies’ websites a photo of Canadarm2, its contribution to space exploration, after it was discovered that the country’s name and its flag had been airbrushed on space equipment.

The original picture was taken during a spacewalk in 2005 and shows astronaut Stephen Robinson. However, there is no logo on the photo of the Canadarm2. Yet in the doctored version, the name Canada is written on the piece of equipment, with the maple leaf flag painted above the final A.

"The tactic of fairly ham-fisted airbrushing used here seems more reminiscent of North Korean propaganda posters than of Western democracies' typical PR efforts," Kenneth Cukier said, writing on a blog for the Economist, after he had come across the photo by chance.

The Canadian Space Agency had originally commissioned the photo in 2006 to be used for a poster at an internal event to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Canadarm’s use.

Apparently, the Canadian government didn’t realize the photo was a fake. It used it on a number of its websites to highlight the country’s achievements.

The photos have since been taken down after the mistake was outed.

"It wasn't supposed to be used in any public way," said Maya Eyssen, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Space Agency, as reported by CBC.

Photo courtesy: NASA / Twitter

Eyssen doesn’t know how the photo was leaked, but says the agency is taking steps to make sure the photo is removed and replaced with the original version.

Interestingly enough, there is actually a Canada logo in the original photo. However, it is very difficult to make out and is at the far end of the arm.

One astronomer could not see the funny side of the Canadian government’s actions.

“We get enough grand press from the Canadarm as it is. You don’t need to embellish,” said Paul Delaney of York University, as cited by the Canada Journal. “Everybody knows that the thing sticking out of the Space Station and the shuttles is Canadarm, (version) one or two.”

“Almost every time there’s an image taken … it has Canada clearly labeled on this. So if you’ve managed to snag a photograph that doesn’t have it clearly on there, go back into the archives and find one that you like! You don’t have to go and doctor it. That just to me is cheap and cheesy,” he said.