The mystery light was captured by NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover

The mystery light was captured by NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover

Alan Boyle wrote a fascinating article about a possible theory of the emergence of a mysterious light on Mars. One explanation for the occurrence of this glow is that the light can be caused by the shiny surface of the rock, since the same light is present in two Navcam images taken at different times.

"It is possible that the glow is brilliance from the surface of the rock, reflecting sunlight," said Boyle. "When these pictures were taken, the light from the sun fell in the same direction as the bright glow, northwest of the rover."

Another explanation for the spot may be a light leak in the camera body through the vent hole. “We believe that this is either a light leak through the vents or a reflection of light from a shiny surface,” says Justin Maki, a staff member at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

But it is possible that the cosmic ray may have another explanation. It is very curious that for this purpose the light spot should be present in two different photos taken on different days using the same tool. But you can be calm, this is not aliens.

While carefully viewing the original photographs taken on the surface of another world, it is not surprising that sometimes we see some mysterious objects and things that simply do not lend themselves to any rational explanation (at least in the initial stage). Initially, attention to this photo was drawn to the forum dedicated to UFOs, which, perhaps, is not a surprise for us. But then this story received a new round with the release of the article under the screaming title: "NASA took a photo of a strange bright light coming out of Mars."

On April 7, an article about “artificial light emanating from the surface of the planet,” quotes the words of the enthusiast Scott S. Waring: “This may mean that there exists intelligent life under the surface. This is not a glare from the Sun and it cannot be an artifact of a photo. ”

There is a whole bunch of assumptions, not least that light comes from some intelligent creature on the surface of Mars, and it uses light in the same way as we do. Perhaps it is the headlights from the traffic light, which is approaching the rover? Or a camera flash of a Martian resident? The options are endless.

However, the main problem with the whole line of reasoning is that the light is “artificial”. But it is not.

The space is filled with radiation, and the thin atmosphere of Mars simply cannot block high-energy particles (known as cosmic rays, the source of which can be the Sun or deep cosmic phenomena) as effectively as the Earth’s dense atmosphere and strong geomagnetic field. Thus, some cosmic rays fall on the surface of Mars.

What can exist on the surface of Mars, except stones and dirt? That's right, rovers and their ultra-sensitive cameras. The bright light that hangs suspiciously above the horizon in the depths of the Gale crater is not light at all. These are cosmic rays that fall on the Navcam camera of the Curiosity rover.

Astronomer Phil Platte and Emily Lackdavall of the Planetary Society did the hard work of this study and concluded that this “light” is actually the result of cosmic rays. Be sure to read their detailed analysis.

It turns out that the cosmic rays fall on the Navcam cameras of the Curiosity rover. The camera has a charged array connection, which converts optical light into an electrical signal (the same principle is used by a digital camera on the back of the smartphone). It must be that highly charged particles that fall on the camera can cause a temporary charge overload, leaving a light point or mark.

This is a very common artifact on space images. In our past research, in which we used images of the Sun, made with the help of space observatories, such as SOHO, these hits of highly charged particles are very common. After analyzing and processing photos, these false signals can be easily removed.

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