What looks like the classic image of an alien UFO was snapped by NASA cameras as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) passed over the Red Planet two years ago.
The mysterious object bears an uncanny resemblance to many depictions of alien spacecraft in science fiction. Its type has also been filmed by many amateur photographers, who happened to have a camera handy, catching similar unidentified flying objects as they crossed the skies overhead all around our own world.
The gigantic, oddly shaped object displays an elongated shape, which is bowed at the ends and narrowed in the middle. Its top appears to be smooth and shadows indicate there are three protrusions at its end which look remarkably like tail fins.
The spectacular image was taken by NASA's MRO spacecraft as it continued its high-orbit photo mapping of the Martian surface on September 3, 2015.
Because of the high volume of images the space agency publishes to the web on a daily basis, this one may have slipped through the cracks for UFO enthusiasts and paranormal investigators.
But, it's tantalizing confirmation that the many UFO sightings by witnesses on Earth of a similar object have a basis in reality and bear closer scrutiny and examination by NASA scientists and photo analysis experts.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched on August 12, 2005, is currently taking grayscale photos of the surface of Mars and has been transmitting high quality, high resolution images back to Earth since September 29, 2006. As of this writing, the MRO has completed more than 50 percent of its mission to capture on film every inch of the Martian surface from high orbit.
The spacecraft has performed several maneuvers to criss-cross the planet in order to concentrate its powerful cameras on points of interest, most notably to capture a more detailed image of the "Face on Mars" located at Cydonia Mesa. It turned out to be just another mountain caught at a peculiar angle.
Despite the distance to the surface, the MRO Context Camera is said to resolve items as small as 90 cm (three feet) in diameter. The incredibly high quality of the camera is evident in this photo, revealing many telling details about this puzzling object, which, ironically, only adds to the mystery.
Why is it shaped so oddly? What are the strange markings on the Martian surface nearby which resemble, for lack of a better term, "skid marks" left by an automobile after a crash? Why does the spine seem to be so smoothly polished? And, what are those strange protrusions jutting out from its tail end?
The MRO has had a long history of significant scientific discoveries during its mission, including confirming the presence of frozen water at the Martian poles, in newly formed impact craters and observing "flowing salty water" on the surface or subsurface of Mars.
Such proven facts seem to support the theory that Mars was once a viable planet with flowing water covering much of its surface and may have had an oxygen-based atmosphere.
Is it possible that either indigenous Martians, or aliens from another planet, may have once walked its soil and flew in its skies before all the air and water was boiled off forever by the planet's close proximity to the Sun?
This provocative image may provide evidence that such may have been the case, either in the recent past or eons ago.
Upon completion of its mapping mission, estimated to take another decade, the MRO will act as a permanent communications liaison between Earth and Mars and will serve as a highly capable relay satellite for future missions.
But, for UFO investigators and alien visitor theorists alike, the MRO may have already performed its most important task of answering the age old question:
Is there (or was there) life on Mars?