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Life on Mars? What is That Light in the Mars Rover Picture?

World News – Is this a picture that NASA did not want to get out? Could it be a Martian’s campfire? A UFO? A rival planet’s rover cooking along on the horizon with sterno?

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What appear as glints of light on new photos from NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover probably are just a reflection, a glare on a lens or a technical error, but that hasn’t stopped speculation about just what whatever-it-is is.

“This could indicate there is intelligent life below the ground and uses light as we do,” read a post on ufosightingsdaily.com. “There is not a glare from the sun, nor is it an artifact of the photo process.”

The rover’s images, which were taken on April 2 and 3, appear to show a light shining from the surface of Mars.

Justin Maki, an imaging scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA’s lead center for robotic exploration of the Solar System in Pasadena, Calif., told ABC News that the bright spots appear to be single images taken by the rover’s Navigation Camera on NASA’s Curiosity rover.

“In the two right-eye images [on the rover] 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,” Maki said.

“One possibility is that the light is the glint from a rock surface reflecting the sun,” he said.

On the two different days that the images were taken, the sun was in the same direction as the bright spot, Maki noted.

The light also could be caused by a technical error, which has occurred previously on other Curiosity cameras and other Mars rovers, Maki said.

“The rover science team is also looking at the possibility that the bright spots could be sunlight reaching the camera’s CCD directly through a vent hole in the camera housing,” Maki said. “We think it’s either a vent-hole light leak or a glinty rock.”

By RACHEL KATZ from abcnews.go.com

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