Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Singapore Airlines reroutes flights over North Korean missile threat

Three chees North Korean leader Kim Jong Un celebrates after giving an order to test-fire the newly developed inter-continental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15 North Korea missile: Inconsistencies spotted in Hwasong-15 images
Preston Stone | 07 December, 2017, 09:07

On inspecting images of the launch released by North Korea, a space analyst observed that the photos showed inconsistencies in the positioning of constellations that make up the backdrop of the missile test. Dr Marco Langbroek, Space Situational Awareness consultant at Leiden University in the Netherlands, believes the regime tampered with the images, adding stars in the sky.

The test-launch raised tension further with South Korea and the United States, who on Monday began their largest ever joint air exercise, which the North has branded an "all-out provocation".

The paper says that, given Pyongyang's worsening relations with surrounding nations and advances in nuclear weapons and missile systems, "many in Japan believe evacuation exercises for the public are a prudent precaution". Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government.

This missile is capable of reaching the USA and causing vast damage to the state.

According to CNN, using longer exposures meant the movement would be captured as a blur.

Langbroek pointed out that in two images, the exhaust plume and position of the number on the missile were nearly identical, yet the star-field had been edited.

Essentially, Langbroek suggested the stars in the background don't match up with the viewpoints from which the photos were taken.

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These were not the only images that were used by him to prove his point.

"They looked so crisp, that just didn't seem right to me", said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who corresponds with Langbroek. The starry background helps highlight the missile and give it an ethereal quality, giving the photograph some texture that a near pitch-black background would not.

But it has also led to another spate of warnings that, if sanctions don't change North Korea's calculus, military action might be needed.

European airlines Lufthansa and Air France-KLM shifted their paths in August after two North Korean test launches in July.

"Stars just don't look that different a few miles apart, and we have no reason to disbelieve that this launch was from the Pyongsong region north of Pyongyang", McDowell said.

The launch took place on the night of 28 to 29 November.

However, he said not all the images appeared to be tampered with. "That is not the case", Langbroek told CNN.

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