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back to article UFO, cosmic ray or flasher? NASA rules on Curiosity curiosity

The internet has been all aflutter after a picture taken by NASA's Curiosity rover appeared to show a beam of light emanating from the Red Planet's horizon. Mars light snapped by Curiosity Martian garden lights "This is not a glare from the sun, nor is it an artifact of the photo process," claimed the image's discoverer, …

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Is there...

a large framed guy with incredibly bulgy eyes clawing at his collar and writhing in agony at the base of the said mountainous lump?

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Re: Is there...

Nice reference to Total Recall :)

In other news .. :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is there...

Oh? I thought he meant homer simpson !

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Re: Is there...

There wasn't one picture, but two, both showing a ligjht of some sort. Not saying this is of alien origin, but nasa is not the experts they claim to be. If what they say is true, why not the thousands upon thousands of pics ever taken in space, or millions of pics taken on earth, showing the same thing? And why two pics in the same area around the same time showing a flash of light?. And are the pics taken at the exact same time? Is there a delay? I call bullshit.

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Facepalm

Now with added JFK

nasa is not the experts they claim to be

Behold the Internet!

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Re: Now with added JFK

True enough. Everyone is more of an expert than the experts who work with the equipment that they designed and sent through space to another planet to explore is.

Even money, it's just a piece of schist.

Excuse the lousy pun, but it could as well be a flash reflection off of a rock. Some people forget that some rocks are shiny.

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Re: Is there...

Bad pixels, hot pixels and cosmic ray hits do show up on almost every picture astronomers (both amateur and professional) take of the sky. First thing they do is to get rid of them by various means, like sigma clipping, bad pixel mapping and dark frame subtraction.

And the best bit is, you can actually check this for yourself. 500 euro's for a digital camera and a tracking mount should do the trick. The processing software can be found on the net for free.

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Re: Is there...

It's flat at the bottom and the rest is diffuse. Could be a gas flare of some kind.

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TRT
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Re: Is there...

It's flat at the bottom and the rest is diffuse. Could be a gas flare of some kind.

Is it a green mist?

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Re: Is there...

All right, Beatrice, there was no alien. The flash of light you saw in the sky was not a UFO. Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus.

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Re: Is there... (Interpolation/scaling used in the enlarged image)

"It's flat at the bottom and the rest is diffuse."

That was the very first thing that struck me. The second thing was that there's no pixelisation in the enlarged image - whoops!

If you look at the source image from JPL (jpeg - bah!) the brightened region is just 3 pixels wide by 6 pixels high, so the diffuse appearance in the enlarged image is due to interpolation being employed when the enlarged image was blown up - doh!

What _is_interesting is that only the lower 4 pixels of the central column have been burned out, with the upper two pixels of the central pixel column and both of the two side columns being much less bright, so that you can actually make out the background through them.

I'd say that this isn't a good match for a cosmic ray striking the detector because although the halo pixels could be the result of internal reflection within the layers of the detector they don't spread below the bright column as they do above it; the bright region, even in the raw image, cuts off uniformly across the bottom.

So I had a look at the other image that's referred to and this does have different characteristics; instead of a line of burnt-out pixels there's a 2x2 block, which in itself is not significant because it could indeed be due to the incidence at which the cosmic ray hit the detector, but more importantly, there's a 1 pixel halo of brightened pixels on _all_ sides of the burnt-out region, which is a better match for a cosmic ray striking the detector.

Going back to the first image, I don't think it's a reflection either, because the bottom pixel, for sure, and possibly the one above it as well, in the burnt-out 4 pixel column appear to be coming from a bit of the ground that's in shade - the camera is pointing almost directly towards the sun with the bright region appearing to originate just this side of a ridge, on a slope that's falling towards us.

All things considered, and baring in mind there's aparently a one second time difference between the images from the left and right cameras, I'm more inclined to think that this might have been a small meteorite strike.

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Re: Now with added JFK

I think you've summarized the core logic of anti-vaxxers, too.

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jai
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Alien

incandescent gas

As Mars approached opposition, Lavelle of Java set the wires of the astronomical exchange palpitating with the amazing intelligence of a huge outbreak of incandescent gas upon the planet. It had occurred towards midnight of the twelfth; and the spectroscope, to which he had at once resorted, indicated a mass of flaming gas, chiefly hydrogen, moving with an enormous velocity towards this earth. This jet of fire had become invisible about a quarter past twelve. He compared it to a colossal puff of flame suddenly and violently squirted out of the planet, "as flaming gases rushed out of a gun."

A singularly appropriate phrase it proved. Yet the next day there was nothing of this in the papers except a little note in the Daily Telegraph, and the world went in ignorance of one of the gravest dangers that ever threatened the human race.

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Re: Now with added JFK

"Some people forget that some rocks are shiny."

and that the secret is to bang the rocks together...

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Re: it's just a piece of schist

Is there schist on Mars? There are certainly cosmic rays.

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Alien

He may be mad... BUT at least he is looking, so if there is something NASA miss, these guys will find it... but seriously if the right eye saw it but not the left, it is clearly cosmic ray or similar...

If alien life, in the form of anything other than microbes, is found, there is a very high chance it will be found by someone pouring over photos sent back rather than NASA/CSA/ESA, simply because organisations like this don't have the resources to do so...

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Pirate

Too bad

we can't suggest to the CIA/NSA that there are terrorists on Mars. It might give them something to do besides spy on us earthlings. They've obviously got a surplus of manpower and high-end hardware at their disposal...

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Re: Too bad

But if NSA found something they would never tell us.

They might leak it if they thought it might boost their budget, might even fake something to boost the budget.

No, on second though it's a bad idea to ask NSA to do anything useful.

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Alien

Re: "or similar..."

How close are the two cameras and how murky is the atmosphere? Enough to rule out a laser?

Ain't thinking, just saying.

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Re: "or similar..."

Laser wouldn't hit just a few pixels in one camera, mon.

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Re: "or similar..."

"Laser wouldn't hit just a few pixels in one camera, mon."

Unless the sharks fin was positioned just right.

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Alien

Re: "or similar..."

Sadly the other camera fell right in the dark centre of the other of the two luminous rings,which were briefly projected at the rover from a strange rocky projection on the far hilltop.

Together with the luminous circles was a very deep audio signal that was also unfortunately missed by the onboard microphone, apparently wittering on about something concerning 'Mysterons' or some such gibberish... probably just the Martian wind...

Now back to NASA spokesperson, Captain Black, in Mission Control.

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Re: Too bad

Terrorists, or at least the religiously motivated terrorists we fear today, can't be on Mars. Your suggestion that such might even be possible is not going to do you any favors next time you want to fly somewhere on vacation.

Religiously motivated terrorists cannot be on Mars as that implies God has put life forms on a heavenly (ha!) body other than Earth. As it plainly states somewhere in the first half of the Bible/Koran/DSM IV, God created Earth and there created Man in his image and gave him dominion over all that dwells within (including women, note how the 'w' lacks capitalization? Yep, blame that glass ceiling on God sugartits, and bring me my bourbon). See, not a damn thing about terrorists on Mars. On that note, the starry firmament gets a passing mention, but how about a planety firmament? Nope. Nary a single word about another planet.

With that established, we can now move onto the fact that God, or his (Holy)ghostwriter, made no mention of other planets, of other life upon said nonexistent planets, we know with 200% certainty the myth of terrorists on Mars absolutely cannot be true as a terrorist with no one to terrorize cannot be a terrorist. Schizophrenic, quite possibly, but a terrorist, absolutely not. Since God didn't say anything about any non-terrorists on Mars (or even Mars itself), we know therefore, there can also be no terrorists (or Mars).

Your Curiosity (ha! x2) about the greater world is to be applauded. Your fear mongering and incitement to action is wholly uncalled for. Future lessons will not be so pleasant and, if you are wise, will also prove wholly unnecessary.

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Re: "or similar..."

"Laser wouldn't hit just a few pixels in one camera, mon."

Unless the rover itself had the laser and that was the scintillation return.

As the rover doesn't have a ranging laser that I'm aware of, NASA would know if the thing was on and a lot more should be scintillating, we'll say that a laser is flat out wrong.

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Re: "or similar..."

"Now back to NASA spokesperson, Captain Black, in Mission Control."

If we're going to play that show, I vote for an investigation by Captain Scarlett. Johansson. ;)

Damn, but did I give my age away in knowing what show that was.

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Re: Too bad

"As it plainly states somewhere in the first half of the Bible/Koran/DSM IV..."

Ah, but in DSM XVVIVXXI, it plainly states that lifeforms are all over the bloody place and that the intelligent ones are blithering idiots.

Got my copy from a Doctor, when I popped into the wrong Turdis that turned out to be a TARDIS.

Next time, I'll check the sign more closely. Can't get those pepper pot guys ichor out of my sand shoes!

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TRT
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Re: Too bad

DSM IV? Surely MM2 or The Manual Of The Planes?

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Re: Too bad

"But if NSA found something they would never tell us."

We'd have to wait a few years for one of their under-paid interns to run to Russia and then tell us. :)

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Anonymous Coward

"He may be mad... BUT at least he is looking"

Ever actually visited Scott Waring's site? He doesn't look. He finds. Everywhere, always, on and in everything. A meteorite impacting a volcano in Mexico is of course aliens returning to their secret base, USS Voyager-shaped shadows on the moon are alien battleships, SOHO Observer image artifacts are a fleet of Borg cubes orbiting the sun. The simplest explanation is never the correct one for good old Scott.

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Re: Too bad

Nice...

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Isn't this...

...the way all the trouble started in Europa Report? It's all going to end in man eating, radioactive sand-sand squid I'm telling you.

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Alien

Re: Isn't this...

" It's all going to end in man eating, radioactive sand-sand squid I'm telling you."

More like Tremors then? Good thing Curiosity is pack'n that laser.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100814/

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Coat

Re: Isn't this...

Hmmm, a laser might not be enough. You probably need an elephant gun.

Burt Gummer: Broke into the wrong goddamn rec room, didn't ya you bastard!

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Disgusted!

It seems one can't go anywhere these days without being confronted by lowest most base of individuals, apparently there are even flashers on Mars.

I blame all this interporn stuff and freedom of speech, it's about time the government did something.

I can tell you one thing! I certainly won't be going to Mars any time soon unless they clear up this filth.

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Re: Disgusted!

Exodus 13:21

"Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people."

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Re: Disgusted!

Writing it that way sounds much better than "they walked towards an erupting volcano"

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Re: Disgusted!

Erupting volcano? More likely it was just Moses walking up front carrying a large flame torch soaked in animal fat.

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Mushroom

Eltam on the edge of the Wilderness?

What? It moved from South East London and I missed it?

Oh, I guess it means being next to Welling and Lewisham. Yes, that is being next to a wilderness. I mean, have you seen the shopping centre in Lewisham? Now that really is a depressing place, the squalor of which cannot be described by mere words alone.

So, as you were, Eltham is on the edge of the wilderness.

Incidentally, there were several attempts to but it down during the London riots. Does this mean that the oiks stealing from the burning Primark were actually doing the Lord's work with their burning pillar of flames?

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Re: Disgusted!

"Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness..."

First reading, I thought that the Children of Israel were camping in Eltham. I know a lot of bad stuff has happened to those guys through the ages, but no-one would wish that on them....

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Re: Eltam on the edge of the Wilderness?

[...] the shopping centre in Lewisham [...] which cannot be described by mere words alone.

Billy Jenkins managed it with words and music though.

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Pirate

Robbie the Robot

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4c/Robbie_Forbidden_Planet.jpg

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Testing the Sky Beam™

before opening the new MGM Luxor Mars casino.

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Alien

Aliens are suckers for these kind of trinkets.

tiny statues, fossils, and a carved alien skull

All made in Taiwan!

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Holmes

Small meteorite strike

They need a scan of the location by a mapping satellite. I would say the best possiblility, given the geometry of the flash is a small meteorite strike between the more remote ridge and a slightly lower one nearer the rover.

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Re: Small meteorite strike

And they can triangulate using the other camera's image... oh, wait...

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Re: Small meteorite strike

All you do is take a new image of the area and run a difference between it and a previous image. They find new craters that way quite often on both Mars and the Moon.

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Backlit dust devil?

I thought it could be a backlit dust devil when looking at the enlargement, but the fact it is not in the other stereo image would seem to rule that out.

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Re: Backlit dust devil?

"I thought it could be a backlit dust devil..."

The fact that it was front lit rather rules it out as well. Look at the hills and see what is better lit.

Now, if they kept getting something like that, it'd be worthwhile to see what reflective mineral survives being sand blasted, yet can still reflect.

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Flame

It's John Carter's campfire...

The poor guy obviously moved to Mars to get away from us, and now we are tracking him down with a nuclear-powered laser tank!

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TRT
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Re: It's John Carter's campfire...

Alan Carter's campfire more like.

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