NASA’s Curiosity rover took the black and white photograph using Navcam, a navigational camera that some robotic rovers or spacecrafts use. It serves as the rover’s “eyes” to take wide angle photographs.
No one is sure what the light is or what caused it to occur. Photos taken seconds before and after do not show the mysterious white phenomenon.
The car-sized rover was launched in November 2011 and landed on Mars in August 2012. Since then, it has been sending images of Mars’s surface back to Earth.
Curiosity rover sent back similar photographs in 2014, when it captured a bright spot of light. It appeared in photos taken with the rover’s “right eye” and did not appear after it was taken seconds later by the “left eye.”
JPL scientist Dr. Justin Maki did not believe the 2014 photo was adequate evidence for extraterrestrial life. He listed three possibilities for the occurrence.
“One possibility is that the light is the glint from a rock surface reflecting the sun,” Maki said in a 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 for the bright spots is when sunlight enters through a vent hole into a camera’s sensor.
In an email to the Huffington Post, Maki said the phenomenon “has happened previously on other cameras on Curiosity and other Mars rovers when the geometry of the incoming sunlight relative to the camera is precisely aligned.”
Finally, it could also be “a cosmic ray striking the camera’s detector.”
Those who believe the light captured in the 2014 photo has significance provided a different interpretation. Scott C. Waring, a blogger for UFO Sightings Daily, said it shines upward from the ground.
“This could indicate there is intelligent life below the ground and they use light as we do. This is not a 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 percent indication that it is from the surface,” he wrote.
Curiosity rover has continued to capture the Red Planet and has made significant discoveries that include an ancient stream bed, organic carbon, microbes, and other components that suggest possible life on Mars.