Mars rover camera hit with charged particles after solar flare reaches planet

FILE - NASA's Curiosity Mars rover captured black-and-white streaks and specks using one of its navigation cameras just as particles from a solar storm arrived on the Martian surface. These visual artifacts are caused by energetic particles hitting t (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover managed to capture fascinating images of charged particles from a solar storm that hit the planet back in May. 

The recently shared images show white specks entering the rover’s camera view as it was attempting to capture dust devils and wind gusts. 

An X-class solar flare was launched toward the Red Planet on May 20 and a subsequent coronal mass ejection followed, sending charged particles toward Mars. 


The specks in this scene were caused by charged particles from a solar storm hitting a camera aboard NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. Curiosity uses its navigation cameras to try and capture images of dust devils and wind gusts, like the one seen here.  (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

If there were astronauts standing next to the rover at the time of impact from the solar flare, they would have gotten a radiation dose of 8,100 micrograys which is equivalent to about 30 chest X-rays, NASA said. 

While the radiation was not deadly, it was the biggest surge the rover’s radiation detector measured since it landed on the planet 12 years ago. 

The particles seen in both images shared by NASA on Monday look like "snow" as they hit the rover’s navigation camera. 

Meanwhile, NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter was blasted with energy from the solar particles and had its power temporarily knocked out. It was up and running like normal less than an hour later. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.