Is the bizarre speck of light on the Red Planet a recurring proof of life outside Earth, or in Mars in particular?
Another interesting observation witnessed by NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars gave life to past speculations about the existence of extra-terrestrial existence. A photograph captured by Curiosity, which shows a strange speck of bright light that flickered on the Martian hillside, is enough to draw the attention of the public.
The photo was taken on June 16 or “Sol 2438” in Martian days (A day in Mars also known as ‘sol’ which lasts for 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds). Curiosity shows the desert landscape with high rocky hills in the background, and in the black and white photograph, a streak of light is adamantly visible in front of the rock formations.
Conspiracy theorists intervened and implied that the photo is a direct proof of extra-terrestrials living on the Red Planet. Meanwhile, NASA sticks to what they have previously thought — an anomaly.
What is happening in the Red Planet?
Although speculations roamed that the mysterious light is probably an indication of alien life, NASA admits that it’s an anomaly on their part. But the event gave life to some intriguing suppositions back in 2017, when Scott Waring published his mysterious findings on the website UFO Sightings Daily.
A photo taken by the same rover on April 3 showed an artificial light source coming upward from the ground. The report indicated that an intelligent life also used the same light as humans do and debunked the idea that it came from the sun’s glare.
However, experts suggested that the light is not evidence of alien life. Two years after, the same light reappeared, and NASA remained unconvinced with the idea that the source of light came from unknown inhabitants on the Red Planet.
Instead, NASA proposed two facts about the incident: a reflection of Martian Sunlight and a possible presence of cosmic rays.
Curiosity rover is known to inhabit the surface of Mars since 2012, and with its 17 cameras, it gives reports to NASA’s headquarters regularly. Its primary goal is to wade through the deeper parts of Mars to discover valuable findings that can benefit humans in the future. Aside from sending massive amounts of photos for data scientists to study, the space probe has to roam around the planet’s surface to search for something essential for life to form on Mars.
NASA admits that with thousands of images that the rover has sent to them, some of those have featured anomalies lights too. In this case, Curiosity takes photos using two Navcams that act as its left and right eyes. While the light appears in the images taken by the rover’s “right eye,” it doesn’t show on the camera’s “left eye” seconds after.
This anomaly was explained by the JPL Scientist, Dr. Justin Maki who proposed the same theory five years ago when a similar speck of light appeared on Martian dunes. He is the leader of the team that established and operated Curiosity’s Navcams, who believed that the phenomenon is only a reflection of light and nothing else, or a proof of alien life existence.
He believed that the light is a glint from a rock surface reflecting the sun. “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,” Dr. Maki explained.
If that idea doesn’t satisfy people’s growing belief on alien life, then NASA still has one way to clear the issue.
The presence of cosmic rays is somehow believable in this part. Cosmic rays are charged particles that race around the cosmos and seldom collide with things like cameras. Because Mars’ atmosphere is relatively thinner than the Earth’s, it doesn’t block cosmic radiation. Hence, when in Mars, these cosmic rays are more likely to be visible, in which Curiosity captured on a rare occasion.
The idea of cosmic radiation somehow put the speculation about alien life at rest. Dr. Maki also indicated that every week, they received thousands of images from Curiosity, and some showed bright spots, nearly the same with what the rover has captured today.
If this happens every week, then why was the photo making the headlines?
That’s because of public demands — for something strange that can support their speculation about extra-terrestrial life forms outside Earth. Unfortunately, NASA has a wide range of explanations that can topple down people’s quest on alien life and its never-ending space adventure.