Space agency NASA has explained an image from the Perseverance rover that appeared to show a rainbow stretching across Mars' sky.
The image appeared strangely akin to one that might be taken from Earth: a rainbow rising from the ground and ascending up into the air, contrasted against the harsh yellow of the rest of the image taken from the red planet.
NASA explains "rainbow" in Mars
However, a real rainbow is impossible on Mars, as the planet does not have the processes that can create rainbows, unlike here on Earth.
Instead, the captured "rainbow" in the image captured by the Perseverance rover is nothing more than just a lens flare as the sun hits the rover's cameras.
NASA posted on their official Twitter account that a lot of people have asked them if the image captured a rainbow on Mars, and the space agency immediately debunked the speculation.
NASA clarified that rainbows are not possible on Mars as rainbows are created by light reflected off of round water droplets. Still, there is not enough water there to condense it, and it is too cold for liquid water in the atmosphere. The arc is a lens flare.
NASA explained that the colors were the result of a flare that came from the cameras that are mounted on the rover and took the image in the first place.
The Twitter post read that the Perseverance rover has sunshades on its front Hazcams, considered mission-critical. Sunshades were not considered essential on its back Hazcams, so it scattered light artifacts in the images.
The nature of the red plants' surface appears to be similar to that of Earth's surface, but at the same time, it is undeniably alien. This has led people to see numerous things that can be seen here on here, but they cannot be on Mars.
People usually spot what appear to be things like faces, coffins, and more on the surface of Mars. Those sightings are usually seized upon by conspiracy theorists who suggest that they are proof that NASA is hiding the truth of what is happening on Mars.
However, the unusual artifacts are instead the result of a phenomenon called pareidolia, where people see significant objects or patterns in things that do not actually have them.
Perseverance rover mission
The Perseverance rover is set to search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA's mission to explore the red planet and its environment.
The rover has a drill to collect core samples of rock and soil on Mars, then store them in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission that would then ferry them back to Earth for detailed analysis.
The Mars helicopter, a technology demonstration strapped to the rover's belly for the journey to the red planet, is set to test the first powered flight on Mars.
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Written by Sieeka Khan