Or that’s at least what some people are believing.
The black and white image obtained by the rover shows the desert landscape of the red planet, while in the background we see Mars’ lonely hills.
But just beyond that point, in the vastness of nothing on Mars, there’s was something: a white UFO-ish ‘sphere’ apparently floating above the surface.
Umm is that really a UFO on Mars?
The panoramic image was snapped on June 16 (Sun 2438) by the right navigation camera of Curiosity, configured with an amplitude of 45 degrees to be able to appreciate the landscape well.
It shows an anomaly, a white and oval light that seems to be suspended a few meters from the surface.
And the image was eventually picked up by conspiracy theorists and alien hunters who were quick to speculate that the odd object spotted on Mars was some sort of ‘alien object’ or even an entity made of …. well… pure energy. But the truth is that we are not looking at a UFO on Mars.
What is interesting all conspiracies aside, is that the white anomaly was not present in other photographs taken before and after.
At the same time, the other navigation camera of the rover was pointing towards the ground, in a sort of partial selfie with the Martian rocks, so it could not replicate what was captured by the right navigation camera.
Solving the ‘mystery’
But NASA knows Mars better than the conspiracy theorists.
NASA has an answer to these types of anomalies.
Experts have even explained this one arguing that because space is full of radiation and Mars has a very thin atmosphere, high energy particles -a form of radiation known as “cosmic rays” – hit the red planet without being blocked by the atmosphere or the geomagnetic field as it happens on Earth, and that is exactly what Curiosity has photographed.
To prove the point, NASA stressed that this is not the first time the rover’s captured something like that.
For example, back in April of 2014, the rover snapped a similar image showing a similar light, although on that occasion it seemed to come out of the Martian surface itself and not be on it.
“In the thousands of images we’ve received from Curiosity, we see ones with bright spots nearly every week,” said Justin Maki, Curiosity mission scientist.
“These can be caused by cosmic-ray hits or sunlight glinting from rock surfaces, as the most likely explanations.”
And its no surprise Curiosity snaps anomalies so often, NASA’s robotic explorer has 17 cameras on it – which is actually the most of any NASA planetary rover mission – so that means it really snaps a lot of images, and some of those have resulted in a series of odd, and strange things.