The BGR article NASA’s Curiosity rover saw something flash on Mars, and people are freaking out is one of many nearly identical clickbait articles about a recent image that contains a bright spot.

None of them I looked at so far indicate where curiosity was exactly or which way it was pointing, but the image in the BGR article does link directly to a JPL repository of images: https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/02438/opgs/edr/ncam/NRB_613927069EDR_S0760832NCAM00595M_.JPG and it looks like sol 2438 so it shouldn't be too difficult to track down.

Question: Where exactly was Curiosity when this image was taken and in which direction is this bright spot? Is it possible to estimate where a shiny rock would be to produce this spot if it turns out to be a reflection?

Curiosity image on sol 2438

I have a hunch that it's not going to turn out to be a rock at all:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Jun 25, 2019 at 9:24
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    $\begingroup$ Resource: curiosityrover.com/rovermap1.html $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2019 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ I think I recognize those dunes; it’s a black sand. Curiosity passed areas with a lot of those before turning southeast to go more uphill. $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2019 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ @CourageousPotato that's good to know! Can you find the location on some map or website of curiosity's daily motion? Perhaps mention a date or a coordinate? Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 25, 2019 at 23:50
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    $\begingroup$ The HiRISE Rgb color imagery should let you see where black dunes are hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_040770_1755 $\endgroup$ Jun 26, 2019 at 6:01

1 Answer 1


Part of panorama

The above image is part of this 360$⁰$ panorama that was captured on Mars by the Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity rover on June 18,2019, sol 2440.

When you look at the features on that part you can see they resemble those on the image with the bright spot, which would have been near the upper right corner.

The image below is also part of that panorama image, showing the 90$⁰$ turn to the left that Curiosity made, the starting point on sol 2436, from where with 2 straight drives it reached on sol 2438 the location where the panorama view was captured on sol 2440.

Turning point at sol 2436

[Traverse map[4]

On the traverse map above you can see the turning point of Curiosity on sol 2436, so the bright spot would have been somewhat right of the direction to that point from the location where the panorama image was captured.

So the bright spot was somewhere on the plain behind the Vera Rubin ridge, which can be seen on the traverse map also, in the direction of Peace Vallis, north by north-west.

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    $\begingroup$ Excellent, thank you very much! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 9, 2019 at 11:14
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh Thanks to the panoramic view. It's a privilige to investigate on Mars ! $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Oct 9, 2019 at 12:07

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