An alleged NASA website quietly appeared on the Internet this week. The space-themed Rememberthe13th.com boldly claims that an upcoming announcement will reveal “The Biggest Discovery That will shake the earth,” and after this announcement is made, the world “will never be the same again.”
This website is a very simple one-page site with minimal information. The site is named Rememberthe13th.com because this Earth-shaking announcement was allegedly scheduled to take place on November 13. Although the site is light on details, its social media icons point to social media profiles linked to the Mars rover Curiosity, hinting that this alleged announcement has something to do with a discovery on Mars. The site explains,
NASA has made a historic discovery that will shake the entire planet. This announcement will be released to the media on November 13th, 2013. It will be a day to remember and One for the history books. Spread the word to your family & friends and sign up to stay updated!
And although this site has only been active for a few days, the “Remember the 13th” slogan for this hyped discovery announcement is already inapplicable. On Thursday, October 3, the site was updated to announce “Due to change in plans, we will announce this discovery earlier than previously expected. Tune in on October 6th to see what everyone is talking about.”
In November of 2010, NASA issued a press release announcing a news conference at which a discovery would be revealed that would “impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.” This press release was intentionally vague, and generated lots of excitement and publicity for the announcement. The big reveal ended up being about arsenic-based bacteria living in a California lake, which, of course, deflated the hopes of those who thought NASA was going to announce the discovery of extraterrestrial life.
Although NASA has teased the world with major announcements in the past, many doubt the legitimacy of Rememberthe13th.com. For starters, it is unlike NASA to make a major announcement without first issuing a press release. Additionally, it is unlike NASA to put NASA-related material on a non-NASA website. The domain name Rememberthe13th.com was just registered on October 1, and the registration information indicates that the domain was privately registered to conceal the identity of the actual registrant. One would expect a NASA-affiliated website to be registered by NASA or the U.S. government, and hosted on NASA’s web servers. Neither is true for Rememberthe13th.com.
The space theme of the site’s design seems like a perfect NASA design. But the theme is actually a cheap website template named Caelus. The creators of the site did not even bother changing all of the default text included in the template.
Perhaps the biggest indicator that this website is fraudulent is the fact that NASA employees have been furloughed due to the current U.S. government shutdown. With NASA operations at a standstill, it seems unlikely that the agency would make a major announcement at the current time. Further, a weekend announcement from government employees would be unusual.
The true motive behind this site is unclear. Some suggest the site is a viral marketing campaign for an upcoming movie or video game. Yet others, like Phil Plait from Slate Magazine, present the possibility that the site is simply a phishing scam looking to harvest email addresses.
Although an Earth-shattering announcement from NASA is possible, the red flags displayed by the Rememberthe13th.com website make that possibility unlikely. Time will tell. But again, don’t remember the 13, remember October 6 . . . or not.
READ OUR UPDATE TO THIS STORY – Fake NASA website reveals ‘purple ninja,’ not aliens