IRAN'S announcement that it had successfully sent a monkey into space has stirred questions on the internet, with people pointing to differences between official images of the primate before take-off and after landing.
On January 28, official Iranian media published pictures of a monkey named Pishgam (Pioneer) before the launch.
The animal had light grey fur and a red mole above its right eye. But later, the ISNA news agency released photos taken after the landing that showed a monkey with darker fur and no mole.
A combo shows an image (top) obtained from the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) which was also published by other local news agencies and claimed to have been taken on January 28, 2013, showing a man holding a live monkey with light fur and a mole above its right eye, before being sent in a capsule during for a sub-orbital flight. The image (bottom) obtained from the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) and taken on January 30, 2013, shows a man holding a monkey, which has darker fur and no mole above the eye, being shown during a press conference in Tehran after the return of the capsule. The announcement by Iran that it successfully sent a monkey above the Earth's atmosphere, has provoked questions on social media sites pointing out the differences between the official images of the primate before the launch and when it returned to earth.
These differences have been pointed out by Western media, which have questioned the success of the monkey space mission.
A previous attempt to send a primate into space failed in 2011.
On Facebook, a comment underneath the monkey's pictures reads: the monkey ''went into space and met a doctor who removed its mole''; an ironic reference to the passion of some Iranians for cosmetic surgery.
Two websites close to the regime, Rajanews and Nasimonline, said the monkey images available to the media before the launch were ''archive'' images of the 2011 launch. The monkey presented to the press after the sub-orbital flight was the one that completed the mission, they claimed.