Nasa Mars rover captures strange blue orb on the Red Planet | Tech News

An image taken by the Perseverance rover yesterday shows a mystery blue orb (Picture: Nasa/JPL-Caltech)

In legendary sci-fi novel The Martian Chronicles, one of the species found on the Red Planet is a group of floating blue orbs.

Now, Nasa’s Perseverance rover has actually spotted one.

Well, there’s a chance it isn’t quite the same thing, but fun nevertheless.

Every day the Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars in 2021, sends back a huge selection of pictures from the surface of our neighbour. To be honest, quite a lot of them are just rocks and dust, but there are also stunning vistas, selfies and the occasional weird find.

Which is usually just a rock, but a fun-shaped one nevertheless.

Yesterday however, one of the images revealed rocks and dust with what appeared to be a faint blue oval floating above the dusty surface.

It was taken at 2.48pm Mars time by the rover’s Right Navigation Camera, but that is all the information Nasa has revealed about the image… so far.

Perseverance takes a selfie with its helicopter buddie Ingenuity (PIcture: Nasa/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

But with the Nasa team conveniently sleeping as investigated the image, one UK expert took a look at the mystery object.

And sadly, it probably isn’t a Martian.

‘It’s almost certainly internal reflection within the camera,’ said Associate Professor Grant Kennedy, University of Warwick.

‘From the rock shadows the Sun is somewhere in front of the rover (above and a bit left), so it’s likely that light is shining directly on or into the lens.’


Still, we can live in hope.

And speaking of other weird finds, last year Perseverance spotted a doughnut lying around the planet.

Well, it was actually a possible meteorite, arguably even more exciting.

Perseverance, alongside its helicopter buddy Ingenuity – the first (human) vehicle to fly on another planet – is busy searching for signs of life and collecting samples for possible return to Earth.

A ‘doughnut-shaped’ rock on Mars could have arrived from outer space (Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP)

And Perseverance isn’t alone on Mars. Its sibling Curiosity is still trundling around and working hard, searching for the signs of microscopic life.

While on its mission it too has captured loads of weird and wonderful pictures – including what some though were the fossilised bones of a Martian dragon

Taken, ironically, on April 1 last year, the image appeared to show a row of spiny protrusion emerging from the surface, with a rounded body on one side.

Alongside a ‘fossilised Martian dragon, curled up in its final resting place’, other guesses included a mackerel fillet and a fir tree branch.

A colourised image from Mars led to online speculation (Picture: Nasa/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/SWNS)

Unfortunately for Earthlings enjoying some wild speculation, that too, was just a rock.

‘The simplest explanation for a lot of the strange photos taken on Mars – like this one – is that billions of years ago, when water flowed on Mars, some of that water seeped through rocks, bringing harder minerals along with it,’ said Nasa’s Andrew Good.

‘These minerals settled into the rock and have been exposed after eons of sand being lifted by the wind and chipping away at the softer rock around it.

‘It’s definitely unique – but it’s also definitely a rock.’

The not-a-dragon was captured by the rover’s ChemCam, which has spotted a number of curios over the years. 

In February 2022, it captured a Martian ‘flower’ – again, made in the ancient past when minerals carried by water cemented the rock.

In 2016, the rover discovered ‘Egg Rock’, an iron-nickel meteorite about the size of a golf ball.

The Martian ‘flower’ (Picture: Nasa/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)
A meteorite on Mars captured by Curiosity’s ChemCam (Picture: Nasa/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)
Curiosity shared a stunning view of life on Mars (Picture: Nasa/JPL-CalTech)

And last summer, Curiosity used its navigation cameras to capture a stunning timelapse showing off an entire Martian day.

Since landing on Mars, Curiosity has taken more than a million images. 

Its mission was to discover whether the planet once had the ingredients for microscopic life to exist – and it has, having found both water and the chemical building blocks needed for life.

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