A glint in a photo taken by Curiosity, has set the internet alight with rumors that the rover has found alien life. But NASA has denied the claims, stating that the light is due to some other, more logical explanation.
UFO websites were delighted to find the photos, snapped by Curiosity on the 2nd and 3rd of April, depicting the rough Martian landscape and a single spot of light. Admittedly on first glance the light looks like it might come from some sort of artificial source. It is said by sites that aim at UFO speculation, that it appears there is a square part at the base of the light, which seems inconsistent with any kind of natural explanation. It is also in different positions in each photo, which could indicate a moving light source, according to UFO hunters.
However, appearances can be deceiving. Imaging scientist Justin Maki, who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has denied the alien life rumors. As the head of the team looking after Curiosity’s engineering cameras, he would know. The spot appears only in the photo taken with the camera on the probe’s right-hand side. Thus Maki believes it to be sunlight reflecting off a particular rock, or light that has found its way through the camera’s housing due to damage of some sort.
Spokesman for the Mars rover mission Guy Webster has reportedly stated that bright spots appear in photos taken by Curiosity almost every week. Webster has floated the theory that the light is due to cosmic rays bouncing off the camera’s detector. He has also shown support for the theory that it is simply a very “glinty” rock that has been caught by the rover. This theory is supported by the fact that both photos are taken at a low angle looking up the ridge with the sun behind the rover.
Since Curiosity landed on Mars in 2012, there have been a number of rumors that evidence has been found of Martian life. Reports have come through of fossils, miniature statues and even a carved alien skull. Claims have been made that NASA is seeking to bury these artifacts to deny the presence of alien life on the planet. However, none of these theories have found favor with scientists.
Curiosity has been traveling for several days to arrive at an area on Mars known as “The Kimberley.” The rover will stay for several days to take samples and drill into the Martian surface to look for life. The area was chosen because it shows distinct variation in the landscape. This will give maximum variation in the samples gathered. Here, the rover will look for signs of history on the red planet, including the possible fate of its atmosphere, which was known to have been similar to Earth once.
The flash of light is off course for Curiosity, so the rover will not be investigating the possible source. If the source is a rock, then it is around 175 yards away over the ridge. As NASA’s rover moves around the surface of Mars, it will no doubt incur other instances that will spark more rumors of alien life, rumors that will be denied by any credible scientist.
By Sara Watson