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What Is The Mystery Light On Mars? Distant 'Glow' Seen In Curiosity Rover's Latest Photo
A strange white speck of 'light' on a recent photograph taken by Curiosity rover has led some to believe that life is thriving on Mars.
UFO blogger Scott Waring claims that the new photograph taken by the rover suggests there are intelligent creatures living underground.
But Nasa, perhaps rather unsurprisingly, are not quite heralding it as the discovery of the century just yet.
The Curiosity rover is currently exploring an area of Mars known as ‘the Kimberley.’
Named after a region of western Australia, the area sees four different types of rock intersect and is scientifically fascinating.
The particular spot the rover is in ‘gives us a great view for context imaging of the outcrops at the Kimberley,’ Melissa Rice of the California Institute of Technology said in a release.
Over the next few weeks, Rice will be leading the science for the rover as it drills and analyses rocks at the location.
But it’s not the fact that a car-sized vehicle is exploring an alien world 57 million miles (92 million km) away that piqued the interest of Waring.
Rather, what appears to be an anomaly in a photo has caught the attention of him and other UFO enthusiasts.
‘An artificial light source was seen this week in this NASA photo which shows light shining upward from… the ground,’ Waring writes on his website.
‘This could indicate there is intelligent life below the ground and uses light as we do.
He goes on to claim: ‘This is not a glare from the sun, not is it an artifact of the photo process.
‘Look closely at the bottom of the light.
‘It has a very flat surface giving us 100 per cent indication it is from the surface.
‘Sure Nasa could go and investigate it, but hey, they are not on Mars to discover life, but there to stall its discovery.’
MailOnline has contacted Nasa to provide a possible explanation for the ‘glow’, but have not yet received a response.
However Ben Biggs, editor of All About Space magazine, says we should not jump to any conclusions.
'While the "light" is as yet unexplained, it's quite a leap to assume that it has an intelligent source,' he says.
'The public can afford to speculate wildly but Nasa is an organisation internationally renowned for credible science.
'It needs to exhaust every other likely explanation before it can begin to explore less realistic phenomena.'
This is not the first time a photo from Mars has incorrectly caused some to declare we’ve made first contact.
One famous occurrence was the ‘Face on Mars.’
On 25 July 1976 Nasa’s Viking 1 orbiter released an image of a region called Cydonia that seemed to show a human face on the Red Planet.
In reality it was nothing more than a phenomenon known as pareidolia, where the human brain picks out faces in an object, in this instance a chance aligning of shifting sand.
In 2006, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) imaged the region and again and showed that the sand had continued shifting, erasing the ‘face’ from the surface.
Over the next few weeks the Curiosity rover will perform some of its most extensive investigations on Mars since it landed in August 2012.
Once it has examined this region of Yellowknife Bay it will continue its journey to its ultimate destination of Mount Sharp.
This fascinating geological region will provide scientists with a multitude of data about the history of the Red Planet.
And they may even be able to prove that the planet was once habitable enough for life to exist.
But it’s unlikely they’ll detect any life currently residing on Mars.
Source and special thanks: The Daily Mail
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Official NASA Caption Added to Photo
This image from the Navigation Camera (Navcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover includes a bright spot near the upper left corner. The sun is in the same direction, west-northwest, above the frame. Bright spots appear in images from the rover nearly every week. Typical explanations for them are cosmic rays hitting the light detector or sunlight glinting from rocks.
The right-eye camera of the stereo Navcam recorded this frame during the afternoon of the 589th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (April 3, 2014), from the site where the rover reached a waypoint called "the Kimberley" by that sol's drive. An image taken by the Navcam's left-eye camera within one second of the same time (http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/?rawid=NLB_449790582EDR_F0310000NCAM00262M_&s=589) does not include a bright spot of this type. A pair of Navcam images in the same direction from the previous afternoon has a bright spot similarly located in the right-eye image (http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/?rawid=NRB_449700848EDR_F0301254NCAM00252M_&s=588) but not in the left-eye image (http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/?rawid=NLB_449700848EDR_F0301254NCAM00252M_&s=588).
One possible explanation for the bright spot in this image is a glint from a rock surface reflecting the sun. Another is a cosmic ray hitting the camera's light detector, a CCD (charge-coupled device). Cosmic ray patterns in Mars rover images vary from a dot to a long line depending on the angle at which the ray strikes the detector.
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NASA Responds to "Bright Spot" On Photo
Images taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on April 2 and April 3 include bright spots, which might be due to the sun glinting off a rock or cosmic rays striking the camera's detector.
The image from April 3, from Curiosity's Navigation Camera, is online at: http://www.nasa.gov/jpl/msl/kimberley-pia18077/
The rover took the image just after arriving at a waypoint called "the Kimberley." The bright spot appears on a horizon, in the same west-northwest direction from the rover as the afternoon sun.
"In the thousands of images we've received from Curiosity, we see ones with bright spots nearly every week," said Justin Maki of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., leader of the team that built and operates the Navigation Camera. "These can be caused by cosmic-ray hits or sunlight glinting from rock surfaces, as the most likely explanations."
If the bright spots in the April 2 and April 3 images are from a glinting rock, the directions of the spots from the rover suggest the rock could be on a ridge about 175 yards (160 meters) from the rover's April 3 location.
The bright spots appear in images from the right-eye camera of the stereo Navcam, but not in images taken within one second of those by the left-eye camera. Maki said, "Normally we can quickly identify the likely source of a bright spot in an image based on whether or not it occurs in both images of a stereo pair. In this case, it's not as straightforward because of a blocked view from the second camera on the first day."
At the Kimberley and, later, at outcrops on the slope of Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater, researchers plan to use Curiosity's science instruments to learn more about habitable past conditions and environmental changes.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The project designed and built the project's Curiosity rover and operates it on Mars.
For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/. You can follow the mission on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity.