By now, most of you have probably heard of that mysterious light on Mars that was photographed by NASA's Curiosity rover, but in case you haven't check out these articles shared with us by Mr. V.T., Ms. P.H., Mr. G.B. and many other regular readers here(and a big thank you to them!):
NASA offers 3 explanations for strange bright light seen in photo from Mars
NASA Curiosity rover captures mysterious bright light on Mars
And from our good friends at Phys.org, this gem:
'Bright light' on Mars is just an image artifact
My initial reaction, when I saw this photo, was "This is real, it's not an artifact, And it's anomalous." I tried to explain it, or rather, explain it away, and to my surprise, subsequent articles, the first and third which I linked above for example, rehearsed some of the very same explanations I ran through inside my own mind. There are three "explanations" according to the first article:
"According to NASA, a bright spot appears in single images taken by the stereo camera's "right eye" camera, but the spot doesn't show up in images taken less than a second later by the left-eye camera.
I"n the two right-eye images, the spot is in different locations of the image frame, and, in both cases, at the ground surface level in front of a crater rim on the horizon, Justin Maki, a NASA imaging scientist said April 8 by email through a spokesman.
"'One possibility is that the light is the glint from a rock surface reflecting the sun,' Maki said in the statement. 'When these images were taken each day, the sun was in the same direction as the bright spot, west-northwest from the rover, and relatively low in the sky.'
"Another possibility is that the bright spots are sunlight reaching the camera's image sensor through a vent hole in the camera housing, which has happened before with Curiosity and other Mars rovers, the agency said."
Now compare this with our good friends at Phys.org's statement here:
"Thanks to everyone who has emailed, Tweeted and texted me about the "artificial bright light" seen on Mars. And I'm so sorry to disappoint all the folks who were hoping for aliens, but what you see above is just an image artifact due to a cosmic ray hitting the right-side navigation camera on the Curiosity rover.
"If you do a little research, you can see that the light is not in the left-Navcam image that was taken at the exact same moment (see that image below). Imaging experts agree this is a cosmic ray hit, and the fact that it's in one 'eye' but not the other means it's an imaging artifact and not something in the terrain on Mars shooting out a beam of light."
This is a bit disconcerting, to say the least, for it is almost as if our good friends at Phys.org are saying that our good friends at Never A Straight Answer cannot tell the difference between glinty rocks and cosmic rays. And you'll have noticed a bit of obfuscation between the two articles: Never A Straight Answer is saying that the left hand image, which Phys.Org is citing as "confirmation" of its cosmic ray hypothesis, was taken at a different time than the right hand image with the light, which Phys.Org is saying was taken at the same time. So which is it guys? (and, having failed to get your story straight the first time, would anyone believe any additional statements or explanations at this juncture?)
Then there's the "glinty rock" explanation, which I find dubious at best. For one thing, the light extends above the background line of the distant hill, which would mean a rock extending in the same fashion with its reflective surface. But no such rock appears in the second photo without the light, at least, not as far as my squinting eyes can tell. Other than this, I have no problem with the glinty rock hypothesis, except that usually glinty rocks are found lying around with other glinty rocks, and at that distance, one would expect other glinty rocks to be reflecting sunlight, since they'd be at more or less the same angle. Of course, glinty rocks can and do exist all by themselves, and I suspect we've all seen them before. But in that case, we're still thrown back on the first problem, that this particular glinty rock appears to extend above the line of the hill in the distance, and no such rock appears in the second photo.
Now, on a planet where we have our space probes photographing this (and yes, folks, I checked the NASA site and as the article states, found this object on the NASA photo, after a bit of searching):
can we really afford to dismiss the hypothesis that this might be another anomaly? Suddenly there, and just as suddenly not?(q.v. Nasa's explanation that the two pictures were taken at slightly different times). For the moment, folks, I'm not satisfied with the explanations we've been given, and the subtle obfuscation evident in the explanations between two respected sources, so I'm holding all possibilities open, until the explanations do not conflict, and make some sort of sense.
See you on the flip side.