Perseverance has already taken a bunch of pictures from the red dust surface of Mars since it touched down there in February, and some of them have raised eyebrows among amateur space observers and professionals alike.
NASA scientists have moved to explain a puzzling image obtained from the Perseverance rover that captured what looks like a rainbow showing above the red terrain of Mars.
“Many have asked: Is that a rainbow on Mars? No”, the space agency hit back at multiple conspiracy theories ignited by the sight in a post on the official Perseverance Twitter account.
“Rainbows aren’t possible here. Rainbows are created by light reflected off of round water droplets, but there isn’t enough water here to condense, and it’s too cold for liquid water in the atmosphere. This arc is a lens flare”, the agency pointed out, explaining at length why rainbows as we know them on our planet are not at all possible on Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun.
The agency went on to specify that the colours were the result of a flare that came from the top-notch cameras the rover is equipped with and that captured the sight in the first place.
“I have sunshades on my front Hazcams, which were considered mission-critical (I need them for driving forward & I’m usually driving forward)”, the rover’s official Twitter account posted, continuing to say that sunshades on the back Hazcams weren’t considered essential, “so you can see scattered light artifacts in their images”.
Nevertheless, such images have traditionally served as food for conspiracy theorists, or rather those affected by pareidolia – a phenomenon when observers see certain important features or patterns in things that don’t actually have them.
Perseverance the Observer and the Listener
The new image is notably of a whole bunch of similar ones already beamed back to Earth by Perseverance since it landed on the mission’s first sol, or Martian day, on 18 February.
The rover, operated by well-known space roboticist Vandana “Vandi” Verma, has also already sent back a number of audio recordings, made possible thanks to the robot’s pair of advanced microphones.
NASA’s Insight lander, which touched down on Mars in late November 2018, has also recently hit international headlines, as it has detected intriguing rumblings emanating directly from the Red Planet’s core, prompting scientists to suggest a flurry of theories explaining multiple seismic events supposedly happening there.
The seismometer of the stationary probe designed to study the interior part of the planet detected two new “marsquakes” on 7 March and 18 March, both in a region called Cerberus Fossae where two other rumblings had been previously observed by the mission. This seems to suggest that the area is particularly seismically active, scientists say.
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