Left: the monkey during a press conference on January 31. Right: before his departure for space.
On January 28, Iran captured the world’s attention by sending a monkey into space. The international community largely interpreted this move as a way for Iran to show it is making scientific progress, despite economic sanctions imposed by the West in an effort to impede the development of an Iranian nuclear program.
A photo taken on the day of the monkey's departure.
However, official photos of this event have raised some questions online. While Iranian authorities insisted on the fact that the monkey had returned from his mission alive after having travelled 120 kilometres into the sky, Internet users are asking interesting questions about the animal’s health. Indeed, some of them have noticed a major difference between the photos of the monkey in the spaceship before the launch and photos from the press conference three days later, after his return: a big red birthmark over his right eye had disappeared.
This photo was taken during the press conference celebrating his return.
Another troubling detail is that while photos of the rocket’s departure were widely broadcast by Iran’s official press agencies, no images of its return have as of yet been published. This has left Internet sleuths wondering whether Iranian authorities might be hiding the fact that the space-travelling simian may be in bad shape, or possibly have met his untimely demise.
Post written in collaboration with Omid Habibinia.