Mysterious white light appears in Mars Curiosity rover photo

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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Recent photographs from NASA’s Curiosity rover of a mysterious white light emanating from the surface of Mars has everyone from NASA specialists to alien conspiracy theorists speculating on its source.

Curiosity photo April 3


The origin of all the buzz is seen in the top left corner of the photo, where the horizon line meets the mountains. It was first noticed by Scott Waring of UFO Sightings Daily, and was taken by Curiosity on April 3.

“An artificial light source was seen this week in this NASA photo which shows light shining upward from… the ground,” Waring wrote in a post on the site. “This could indicate there there is intelligent life below the ground and uses light as we do. This is not a glare from the sun, nor 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 percent indication it is from the surface.”

The light also appeared in a photo taken April 2 from a different angle, again appearing in the top left corner of the shot.

Curiosity photo April 2


While Waring’s amateur assessment is undoubtedly the most exciting, it may not be the most plausible.

“One possibility is that the light is the glint from a rock surface reflecting the sun,” NASA Jet Propulsion Lab scientist Dr. Justin Maki told the Huffington Post in an email. “When these images were taken each day, the sun was in the same direction as the bright spot, west-northwest from the rover, and relatively low in the sky.”

Scientists from the lab also pointed out that the light did not appear in another April 3 photo taken seconds after the first by the rover’s left eye (the first image was taken with the right).

“The rover science team is also looking at the possibility that the bright spots could be sunlight reaching the camera’s CCD [charge-coupled device] directly through a vent hole in the camera housing, which has happened previously on other cameras on Curiosity and other Mars rovers when the geometry of the incoming sunlight relative to the camera is precisely aligned,” Maki said.

Another theory is that cosmic rays struck the camera’s detector.

The mysterious light is the latest in a year of strange sightings from Mars including mysterious moving rocks and flying objects in the sky.

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