Beacons of light on Mars excite UFO set, but ‘cosmic ray hit’ on Rover might be the source

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Images showing bright light atop a Martian rise courtesy of NASA/JPL/CalTech

NASA's Curiosity Rover has delivered images from Mars showing beacons of light that have at least one UFO-themed website suggesting that there is life on Mars, but beneath its desolate surface.

"This could indicate that there is intelligent life below the ground and uses light as we do," writes Scott C. Waring at UFO Sightings Daily. "This is not glare from the sun, nor is it an artifact of the photo process. Look closely at the bottom of the light. It has a very flat surface, giving us 100% indication it is from the surface."

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(Disclose.tv, another UFO-themed website, also posted about the images under the tile "Flashes & Pillar of Light on Multiple Mars Curiosity Rover Photos.” Also, a video using the images was produced with the title “Unidentified Light Source on Mars.”)

The source of the flashes, which appeared in Rover photos sent to Earth on April 2 and 3, remains somewhat of a mystery.

However, NBC science/space writer Alan Boyle was informed by an imaging expert at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that the bright spot was caused by a "cosmic ray hit" that affected the Rover’s camera.

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Boyle had written that the Rover's navcam utilizes a stereo system and only the right-side camera shows the bright spots, which "suggests that the 'light' might be a bit of lost data that left blank spots only on the right-hand navcam pictures."

Doug Ellison, the imaging expert, replied via Twitter, "It's not in the left-Navcam image taken at the exact same moment. It's a cosmic ray hit."

Galactic cosmic rays, which originate outside the solar system, are high-energy subatomic particles accelerated to almost light speed. They've been known to disable satellites.

Ellison attached the image from the left-navcam, revealing just the barren Mars landscape, so the cosmic ray hypothesis seems valid.

But don't expect agreement from the UFO crowd.

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