PASADENA, Calif., March 18 (UPI) -- NASA scientists said Thursday the Spirit rover on Mars apparently has spotted an unidentified flying object streaking across the planet's sky.
The scientists said the object could be the first meteor seen from the surface of another planet, or another NASA spacecraft sent to explore Mars nearly 30 years ago.
The sighting was an accident. Spirit was photographing the Martian sky with its panoramic camera when one of the images it sent back to Earth contained a streak -- the brightest object in the sky at the time.
Spirit's mission controllers said the streak probably was a meteor entering the thin Martian atmosphere at high speed. However, it also could have been the Viking 2 orbiter, which was sent to Mars in 1976. Though the craft's power systems shut down years ago, it is still circling the red planet in a polar orbit -- a path that matches the direction of the streak in Spirit's photograph.