Light on Mars: What's that speck of light doing? (+video)

Light on Mars: The bright spot that appears in images released by NASA has nothing to do with alien life, says the US space agency.

By , Staff writer

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    This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 589 (2014-04-03 10:00:03 UTC)
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A bright spot appears in images taken by the Navigation Camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on April 2 and April 3, arousing the interest of UFO enthusiasts. 

But, much to their disappointment, the tiny dot of light is not indicative of alien life, says NASA.

"We think it's either a vent-hole light leak or a glinty rock," says Justin Maki, an imaging scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory who is the lead for the engineering cameras on Curiosity. 

Recommended: Are you a space whiz? Take our quiz!

The spot appears in images taken by the stereo camera's right-eye camera "but not in images taken within a second of each of those by the left-eye camera. In the two right-eye images, the spot is in different locations of the image frame and, in both cases, at the ground surface level in front of a crater rim on the horizon," Dr. Maki says in a statement.

The bright spot could have been caused due to "the 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," Maki adds.

The explanation from NASA may not be enough to put an end to the speculations on the existence of an alien life. "Look closely at the bottom of the light. It has a very flat surface giving us 100% indic[a]tion it is from the surface," according to UFO Sightings Daily.

In a tweet, Doug Ellison, visualization producer at JPL had earlier pointed that the speck of light was  "[a] cosmic ray hit."

Cosmic rays are high-energy particles that could be perceived as light flashes.

"The rover science team is also looking at the possibility that the bright spots could be sunlight reaching the camera's [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 says.

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