Is this a video of NASA’s rain clouds machine?
A video has been viewed thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube which claim the footage shows a “rain clouds generator engine” developed by US Space Agency NASA.
The claim is false; the video has been taken from a 2010 episode of the BBC’s Top Gear program; NASA said the footage actually showed tests of rocket engines.
The footage was shared in this September 29, 2018 Facebook post, where it has been viewed more than 3,500 times.
Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:
The 59-second video shows a large machine emitting a huge plume of white-coloured smoke.
The misleading post’s caption says: “Rain clouds generator engine developed by Nasa. See where the world is moving…Amazing…!”
The claim is false; most of the video has been captured from a 2001 episode of “Speed”, part of the BBC’s Top Gear program. The footage in the misleading post contains a BBC watermark on top-left corner. Former BBC presenter Jeremy Clarkson can be seen in the clip.
In the video, Clarkson says to the camera: “Don’t worry if you can’t hear what I’m saying, I couldn’t even hear myself. This is the loudest sound you could possibly conceive. And, as it turns out, the cleanest. Now, the most amazing thing is that that cloud up there, which was generated by the engine, is just a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen — it’s water vapour! And in about an hours time, someone in Mississippi is going to get wet washing, it will actually rain! [sound of rain] I told you! It’s raining! That’s unbelievable! NASA’s playing god, it’s making its own weather.”
A reverse image search on Google found this corresponding video published on the verified YouTube channel of the BBC’s Top Gear program on October 29, 2010.
The title of the video says: ‘Space Shuttle Rocket Booster Test | Speed | Top Gear’.
The caption of the 2-minutes 52-seconds video states: “Jeremy Clarkson heads to Mississippi where NASA test their Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters. Consuming half a million gallons of fuel, they generate the thrust needed to propel astronauts into space.”
The Top Gear video corresponds with the video in the misleading posts from the 1-minute 54-seconds mark until the 2-minutes-47 seconds mark.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading Facebook post (L) and YouTube video of the ‘Space Shuttle Rocket Booster Test’ (R).
NASA’s news chief Valerie Buckingham told AFP that the misleading footage did not show a rain cloud machine.
“No, we have not created an engine for the specific purpose of generating clouds. Let me provide some clarification,” Buckingham told AFP by email on July 10.
The first five seconds of the misleading Facebook video — which do not appear in the Top Gear program — show an RS-25 engine test, Buckingham said.
“The Facebook video is a combined video of the RS-25 engine on the A-1 stand and the RS-68 commercial engine on the B-1 stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi,” she said.
The Top Gear YouTube clip shows “the RS-68 commercial test at Stennis,” she said.
According to Buckingham: “The engines in the video run on liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants. The chemical composition of water is H2O (hydrogen and oxygen). These are mixed in the combustion chamber and ignited, which results in extremely high-temperature steam (6000 degree F) coming out of the nozzle at a very high rate and pressure. That steam rises in the atmosphere, creating a steam cloud that cools off and turns back into water and rains depending on the temperature and humidity at the time of the test. There is also water flowing in the flame deflector which also mixes in the cloud. The steam released during a test is water and does not pollute the atmosphere.”
The first five seconds of footage in the misleading posts has been captured from this video published on NASA’s official YouTube channel on October 19, 2017. The video’s title states: “NASA Tests RS-25 Flight Engine for Space Launch System”.
The video is embedded below: