Curiosity Rover Photographs Bright ‘Light’ on Mars, Cue Conspiracy Theorists


Take a look at the photo above. It was taken recently by the Mars Curiosity Rover and contains a ‘light’ in the top left that has caused such a fuss NASA actually had to come out and clarify that it wasn’t, in fact, anything of consequence.

Personally, I like the photo in general. A moody, monochrome landscape from a different planet — like Ansel Adams on Mars (if he was a robot and not nearly as good at composing his shots).

But in case you were hoping that this really is proof that aliens light camp fires or occasionally turn on the lights by accident while Curiosity is looking, here’s NASA’s explanation of the photo:

This image from the Navigation Camera (Navcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover includes a bright spot near the upper left corner. The sun is in the same direction, west-northwest, above the frame. Bright spots appear in images from the rover nearly every week. Typical explanations for them are cosmic rays hitting the light detector or sunlight glinting from rocks…

One possible explanation for the bright spot in this image is a glint from a rock surface reflecting the sun. Another is a cosmic ray hitting the camera’s light detector, a CCD (charge-coupled device). Cosmic ray patterns in Mars rover images vary from a dot to a long line depending on the angle at which the ray strikes the detector.

Here’s a closer crop:


So, like the mysterious donut jelly rock before it, it seems this is in fact nothing more than a standard aberration that NASA engineers see fairly frequently. Not that that’ll do nothing to dissuade determined conspiracy theorists.

If you’d like to pixel peep the photo and investigate for yourself, you can head over to the NASA JPL website and download the high-res TIFF by clicking here.

(via Forbes)

  • slvrscoobie

    Uh, thats the top LEFT guys. L for Left..

  • randomeer

    Lol! I’m glad someone else pointed that out…

  • DLCade

    Right you are : ) Thanks for pointing that out, it’s been fixed.

  • Steven_Martin

    “Ansel Adams on Mars” would make an interesting feature film.

  • seoras

    hot pixel :)

  • CruzPalin2016

    Yet another reason to impeach obama…

  • MS

    Could be an encroaching Russian Rover you guys…

  • CopyEditor

    ummm…. that should be the “mysterious jelly donut rock”, not donut jelly rock….

  • Dbr

    They actually look like 2 different pictures

  • rm

    I actually think the little rivulet in the lower right is more interesting.

  • @JacksonCheese

    No they don’t.

  • Ryan Alexander Davis

    I’m curious as to what is being theorized… I’d google it but I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole.

  • Alan Klughammer

    or not…

  • Alan Klughammer

    tl;dr Sunlight reflects of rocks on mars…

  • Dover

    Actually it would make a great band name.

  • Jake

    All I read here was a “possible explanation.” So really, no reason to rule out Martians yet.

  • RonT

    Just take the blue pill then :-)

  • Gav

    Nah it is just a data transfer issue or a dead pixel on the sensor…You have got to remember that these images are being sent from mars…Nothing to see here.


    Blown up and looked at with a 60xs jewlers loop its a cross …

  • sjm

    its ansel adams, with a torch. maybe, or a green monster. whatever.

  • kassim

    Hot pixel. Next.

  • aaron vesiontwo

    Just goes to show how good pocketwizards are if you can trigger a flash on another planet :P

  • John Schroeder

    Looks like a blown pixel to me.

  • spud

    NASA’s statement itself is more suspicious than the photo.
    “A cosmic ray hitting the camera‚Äôs light detector, a CCD (charge-coupled device).”
    That’s just making something that is fairly simple for the average person to understand almost incomprehensible.

  • Casey

    Yet another great band name

  • Tim Vechik

    Nerd rock; let’s make it happen!