As more and more images are being beamed to Earth from NASA’s Curiosity rover that is, at least if you believe what they tell you, currently seated in the Gale crater on Mars, people are excitedly taking in the rare chance to look at another world up close and personal. However, NASA inadvertently released one image that is causing quite a storm of curiosity itself.
The image shows a faint image on the horizon in the distance from the point of view of the rover. Even as people were trying to put their finger on what the blotch might be, new images from later appeared where the blotch was long gone. As you might imagine, this did nothing to quell the conspiracy theories.
There are numerous theories, ranging from the ludicrous fringe to more reasonable explanations. Some have said that it might be a part of the craft that the rover was attached to for landing. When Curiosity landed, it parachuted down attached by cables from another craft that then flew a short but safe distance away and crashed. However, that does little to explain why the image didn’t appear in later photos. Some space buffs have said that it could be a dust storm or tornado that had moved on in later photos.
NASA seems to be enjoying the controversy. Mission manager Michael Watkins teased in an interview, saying that if the rover had accidentally captured an image of its mother craft crashing, “it would be incredibly cool.” Others said it would be an insane coincidence. In any case, it is very interesting, but at the end of the day, the real explanation could be as simple as dirt on the lens of the rover’s camera. But that isn’t very fun to talk about, is it?
Here is the image…let us know what you think.