A "rainbow" pictured on Mars is simply a lens flare, NASA has revealed.
With no rain in Mars' atmosphere, a snap of what looked like a rainbow had space fans scratching their heads and guessing how it was formed.
Almost teasing suggestions, NASA initially shared the confusing image with the caption: "NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image of the area in back of it using its onboard Rear Left Hazard Avoidance Camera."
Explanations offered online included the lookalike rainbow in fact being a “dustbow” created by dust particles, The Sun reports.
A simple flare from the camera lens on the Perseverance rover was another idea shared online.
Someone asked on Reddit: "Wouldn't water droplets in the atmosphere and sunlight be needed to create a rainbow? I'm not sure Mars has that maybe it's just light reflecting off the lens."
A second added: "Your right thats a dustbow not a rainbow."
And when quizzed by tech publication Futurism, NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab finally ended speculation on what its rover captured.
Media relations specialist for JPL, Andrew Good, said: "What you’re seeing there is a lens flare.
"We have sunshades on the front Hazcams, which were considered mission critical (since we need them for driving forward, and we’re usually driving forward).
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"Sunshades weren’t considered essential on the back ones, so you can still see scattered light artifacts in their images."
“Many have asked: Is that a rainbow on Mars? No,” the space agency said 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.”
NASA successfully landed the Perseverance rover on Mars in February in the hope of its six cameras picking up plenty of useful data on the planet.
Data and selfies which were published on social media on Wednesday.
The rover's own Twitter account captioned a photo of the machine: "Two bots, one selfie. Greetings from Jezero Crater, where I’ve taken my first selfie of the mission.
"I’m also watching the #MarsHelicopter Ingenuity as it gets ready for its first flight in a few days. Daring mighty things indeed."
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