Aside from NASA’s solar-powered Ingenuity aircraft, should there be anything flying around the skies of Mars? One of the navigation cameras on board the Mars Curiosity Rover has photographed what appears to be an airborne object streaking past the rover.

Taken by Curiosity’s Right Navigation Camera on Sol 3613 (October 5, 2022 for us Earth-lubbers) in the Red Planet’s Gale Crater, the unidentified object, at least as it appears in the image, has an elongated, possibly oval shape, and is tilted slightly to the left. The anomaly appears to be blurred on one end, suggesting that it may be a smaller object traveling to the left of the frame and leaving a gaseous trail of some sort.

The object had apparently moved on by the time a second image was taken twelve seconds later.

The object is unlikely to be a large dust grain or a pebble kicked up by winds blowing across the Martian surface; although the typical wind speed on Mars is on par with those we experience here on Earth, the pressure of Mars’ atmosphere at the surface is less than one percent (0.6%) than what is found at sea level on Earth, meaning that for it to be driving anything larger than the fine dust particles that constitute Mars’ infamous dust storms, such a wind would need to be moving at hurricane-level speeds.

So what is this unidentified object that appears to be, well, flying? It’s possible that Curiosity happened to have captured a meteor as it streaked overhead, although there is still room for interpretation that allows the object to be an unidentified artificial craft, or possibly even the Martian equivalent of an insect.

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  1. Does anyone know if the Curiosity Rover has an infrared camera on board? I read that the Mastcam-Z cameras on board were supposed to have infrared capability, but I’m not sure. I did read that they can record video footage. Too bad we don’t have an infrared heat signature or video from these cameras. If we did, we could rule out an artifact from the navigation camera.

    1. The only camera on board that is listed as capable of infrared imaging is the ChemCam suite; although it is mounted on the rover’s mast it is designed to focus on rock samples on the ground, and no mention is made as to whether or not it could be used to image the sky with any reliability. Otherwise, all of the other cameras, like the NavCam that caught whatever is in the photo, seem to be geared toward visible light and up.

      Considering the rover’s operators basically have a best-case reaction time of eleven minutes at the moment, any transitory phenomena like a UFO can only be imaged accidentally, so it would be wildly impractical to repurpose the ChemCam for scanning the skies.

  2. I think we should remember that humans have been dumping junk on Mars for decades now, there are bound to be many pieces of old rovers and spacecraft blowing around in Martian winds now.

  3. Interesting phenomena.

    Insect or something natural ‘flying’ is extremely improbable because of the low atmospheric density. Likewise anything with any weight blowing around is unlikely. At 1% atmospheric density a 60 mph wind has the power of a .6 mph wind on Earth, therefore only the most fine dist could be airborne.

    There is no saying how close to the Camera and so how big it is, but it is unlikely it was dust very close to the camera, as there would be none of it in focus if it was even visible. Therefore it has at least some significant size. Note that ground rocks close to the camera are still a little distance away, but do have reasonable focus.

    The fact that some of it was in focus and some of it is hazy seems to be a key feature. Something emitting a gas plume for propulsion seems primitive.

    A very interesting Unknown. The other two in the video seem even more interesting.

  4. Another thought to entertain:

    Would these objects have been digitally removed from the picture prior to 2017’s NYT UFO article?

    And are these objects being allowed to remain in the image as part of that transition toward admitting the presence of UFOs in the vicinity of any and all suspicious human technological activity or advancement?

    In other words, would we ordinarily have access to such images, or is their ease of access a purposeful act by NASA and others who have been covering up the UFO phenomenon for their own various self-serving reasons?

    Seems too easy to find.

  5. Assuming that these objects flying around Mars’ lower atmosphere, captured on different days at different locations, are intelligently designed craft or probes ‘keeping an eye on us humans’, the fact that they appear at the very limit of resolution of the Rover’s cameras is perhaps indicative of a very high level of sophistication on their part. The resolution is good enough to see that something anomalous is there, but not good enough to come to any conclusions! ‘They’ knew just how close they could get to that camera without giving themselves away. Sounds like a few more terrestrial encounters as well. Does this strike anyone else as possibly intentional?

  6. That’s a good point about the photo’s low resolution. Perhaps there is a high-res view as well, which NASA will not release. That’s happened before on Earth’s Moon … remember the very tall structure on the far side for which only a low-res long-distance photo was released? It’s gotten to the point now that only low-res available images of odd phenomena always raise my antennae.

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