The You Tube video showing “Bio Station Alpha” went viral and was even reported on some mainstream media outlets.
The station is supposedly a 700 ft x 150 ft structure on Mars and by some accounts is colored white with blue and red stripes. It was found on Google Mars by an “armchair astronaut” and breathless conspiracy bloggers have touted this as the most important discovery on Mars yet, and “proof!” that NASA is hiding their activities.
In reality, this is not a space station, a Mars base or any type of structure – created or natural — on the surface of the Red Planet. What shows up in this location on Google Mars is just a smattering of about 11 bad pixels from data dropout – a linear streak artifact likely caused by a cosmic ray hitting the Mars Express spacecraft while it was taking the image – and then that smudge has been badly distorted through image processing when it became part of Google Mars.
“This looks like a cosmic ray hit,” said Tanya Harrison, planetary scientist on the science operations team for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera (CTX) and Mars Color Imager (MARCI) at Malin Space Science Systems. “We see these from time to time in the MARCI data from MRO.”
Here’s the image that is seen on Google Mars after processing, which includes very noticeable compression artifacts:
|The streak on Google Mars misinterpreted as a secret Mars base. Image Credit: Google Mars|
|Original Mars Express HRSC image of the location in question on Mars. Credit: ESA|