NASA Tries to Explain Mars 'Mystery Light'

Vent hole, shiny rock could have caused it
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2014 2:06 AM CDT
This image taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover's right-eye camera of the stereo Navcam on April 3, 2014 includes a bright spot, upper left.   (AP Photo/NASA)

(Newser) – NASA has offered a few more explanations for a strange beam of light spotted in a photo from its Curiosity rover—and none of them involve Martians. The bright spot that has excited UFO enthusiasts is probably either "the glint from a rock surface reflecting the sun" or sunlight hitting the camera directly through a vent hole in the camera housing, a NASA imaging scientist tells Space.com. Cosmic rays hitting the camera are also a possibility, he says.

Whatever the cause, this is far from the first time such a light has appeared in images from the Mars rover. "In the thousands of images we've received from Curiosity, we see ones with bright spots nearly every week," the NASA scientist says. The rover has now arrived in an area known as "the Kimberley" where four different types of rock intersect; there, it can study samples for clues to environments that might once have harbored life, the Houston Chronicle reports. (Read more Mars stories.)

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