NASA has debunked theories about a not-so-mysterious smudge on one of its images.
The smudge in question is just an artifact of light reflected back on the lens.
UFO hunters can rest easy.
This time, it was a tiny, pinwheel-shaped smudge in an image snapped by the agency's STEREO camera that captured the interest of extraterrestrial enthusiasts.
NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) Mission is comprised of twin spacecraft that launched in 2006 to study the sun and its weather. Only one of the mission's spacecraft is still operating today.
"The answer lies on the exact opposite side of the image," the STEREO team wrote in the statement. "At the same time as this strange-looking feature starts being visible, the very bright planet Venus enters the HI2-A field-of-view from the left. Notice that Venus and the feature stay in step almost exactly opposite each other across the middle of the detector."
The object, the note continues, is actually a reflection of the planet within the telescope's optics and is a common occurrence. You can actually see the same shape crop up on other readings here and here.
The group also released a graphic explaining what exactly you're seeing in the image.
Maybe you'll have better luck next time, Agent Mulder.
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