The navigation cameras on Mars rover Curiosity have developed a habit of getting Life-Is-Out-There fans excited.
A couple of snaps they took on June 20 are the latest to be shared wildly online, and they appear to show a bright light descending to the planet’s surface.
You can see the bright light in the sky above the horizon. This shot is taken from Curiosity’s Navcam Right.
You can see the light having “descended” in this shot 31 seconds later from Curiosity’s Navcam Left.
According to at least one YouTuber, who uploaded the following video, it’s worth investigating.
So NASA did, via the leader of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s team that built the cameras, Justin Maki.
“This is a hot pixel that has been around since we started using the Right Navcam,” Maki told The Huffington Post.
It’s not the first time Maki’s had to use the Hot Pixel defence. Back in April, another “spacecraft” was spotted giving off a telltale flash at the bottom of Mars’ version of the Kimberleys.
“In the thousands of images we’ve received from Curiosity, we see ones with bright spots nearly every week,” Maki told the world’s press then in a NASA statement.
“These can be caused by cosmic-ray hits or sunlight glinting from rock surfaces, as the most likely explanations.”
Of course, the believers will keep believing. But they could do worse than have a look at the Curiosity shots themselves, where they find the light actually ascends through the Right Navcam.
Which means at the same time it had landed – 13:08:35 – in the Left Navcam’s eyes, it was well above the mountains in the Right Navcam version.
Or maybe there were two spaceships? Perhaps the only way we’ll ever know is by actually landing a human-led exploration party.
Still, it keeps someone employed.
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