Truth Behind Viral 24.9 Billion Pixel Image Taken By Chinese “Quantum Satellite”


An image touted to be captured from a Chinese satellite with 24.9 billion pixels of quantum technology is making rounds on several social media platforms and news websites. The viral image is a 360-degree birds eye’s view that can be zoomed to the point where you can see the faces of people casually strolling on the road and even the number plates of the vehicles.

One of the most interesting parts of this mind-numbing image is the clarity and sharp details with which the buildings and surroundings are visible in the image.

Have a look at the image for yourself. Zoom in, keep zooming in, and I am sure, you will be amazed.

Many news sites like The Times Now have termed the image as a result of a new “quantum technology,” which is fitted in a Chinese satellite. However, “Satellite” and “Quantum technology,” in this reference, are nothing but rogue terms used for making the image viral.

A Twitter user also mistook the picture and tweeted that it has been shot by a satellite. However, she soon rectified her mistake and updated the tweet after conducting some research.

So what is the truth behind this mesmerizing image? We have debunked it. Read below to know about the science behind the image.

No, It’s Not Captured From A Satellite!

The image is of Shanghai City and has been captured by Jingkun Technology, a world-class innovative enterprise that focuses on creative photography and cloud data processing. The 360-degree panoramic resolution of Shanghai was captured by the company from the Oriental Pearl Tower in China when Shanghai News Office invited it in 2015 to photograph the city.

According to the company’s official website, the image has a total accuracy of 195 billion pixels! Depicting the beauty of Shanghai, the viral image is the largest image in Asia and the third largest image in the world.

The project garnered a lot of attention all over the world and received 8.2 million visits in 1 year. The image is now used as a new “city card” to the world.

The large pixel panorama image is a collection of images that have been stitched together, and the company boasts that it is more than 2000 precise than a photo captured from a traditional camera. No satellite has been used for capturing this image. Instead, it is a product of high-resolution cameras and image stitching technology.

Coming back to the viral news published by many tabloids citing some superficial quantum satellite, we have dropped mails to rectify the published articles. We are yet to receive a response from them.

Amusing Yet Worrying

The image is undoubtedly amusing but also worrying at the same time. The clarity with which the surroundings and details are captured in the image raises tons of questions about the privacy of people.

It is very much possible that the technology used in the image could fall into the wrong hands and can be used for the surveillance purpose. Imagine sitting comfortably in your office and being oblivious of the fact that an advanced camera is capturing you from several hundred kilometers away.

China has already received flak from many privacy-focused people for developing advanced techniques intended for surveillance on the citizens. Recently, street side surveillance cameras in Shenzhen were equipped with facial recognition technology, and the faces of pedestrians violating the pedestrian traffic rules were flashed on a large screen.

What are your views on this super-zoomable image? Tell us in the comments below.

Also Read: Google Chrome Is Working To Prevent Back Button Hijacking In Browser
Anmol Sachdeva

Anmol Sachdeva

Anmol is a tech journalist who handles reportage of cybersecurity and Apple and OnePlus devices at Fossbytes. He's an ambivert who is striving hard to appease existential crisis by eating, writing, and scrolling through memes.
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