WASHINGTON, D.C. – A high level NASA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press today that analysts working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are struggling to identify a mysterious print found on the robotic arm of the Mars Rover ‘Curiosity.’ The rover, which is about the size of a car, has several cameras on it that regularly transmit images back to Earth.
According to the unnamed official, NASA received several images earlier this month that show a “hand-like” print, or “smudge,” near the base of the seven foot robotic arm. Analysts are working to determine the origins of the print by examining data sent back from Curiosity, including the results of chemical and biological tests performed by the rover.
This reporter spoke with Byron Williams, a contractor working at NASA headquarters in Washington, who has firsthand knowledge of the images. Williams says the consensus among NASA staff is that “it’s some type of hand-print.” Exactly what type, human or extraterrestrial, is yet to be determined. “What we do know for certain is it wasn’t there a month ago,” Williams says.
According to Williams, and corroborated by the NASA official’s statement to the AP, the print wraps around the robotic arm’s cylindrical base “much like a hand would. In one image you can clearly make out the impression of fingers. It’s fairly unsettling to look at.”
Curiosity landed on the Red Planet on August 6th, 2012 and has since spent 935 days there. Part of the rover’s mission is to determine if Mars could have ever supported life.