NASA keeps telling us it is getting ever nearer to a manned mission to Mars, with test flights for the space craft underway, while other organisations are planning their own omne-way trips to the Red Planet.
But have space agencies already secretly posted humans to the Red Planet?
Well you may think so if you believe the latest conspiracy theory doing the rounds online.
Alien chasers looking for evidence of life in pictures sent back to Earth from the rover – a 4WD droid currently exploring the surface of the Red Planet
These creepy images – which were released by the US space agency “without it noticing” – show, according to conspiracy theorists, the shadow of a human, or possibly alien, in an astronaut suit, apparently leaning over the rover as if to repair it.
UFO hunter Scott C Waring posted the latest find, on May 28, online.
He said: “I was checking out the newest Curiosity rover photos on the NASA site and found four of them with the shadow of an astronaut in space suit that appears to be fixing the rover.
“The photo was seen for over 45 minutes as it was fixing the rover.
“This just goes to show the public that the rover is being maintained by humans on Mars and that there are other spacecraft kept secret from the public that can carry a peers to Mars in just a few minutes.”
IOt is not the first timr the claim has emerged.
Last year a video was released by Paranormal Crucible, claiming a humanoid with no helmet on was snapped in shadow next to the rover.
The narrator of its video said: “A mystery figure has been photographed on the Red Planet by the Mars Curiosity Rover.
“The image, which appears to show the shadow of a humanoid leaning over the rover was snapped by the left navigation camera on board the Mars explorer.”
The video claimed it could not be a trick of the light.
It continued: “If we look closer we can see that the figure has hair, a body with a possible back pack, and legs.
“Could this image confirm that there is a human presence on the Red Planet as many conspiracy theorists believe?”
The video then said that in 2007 it emerged another rover, NASA’s spirit rover, became covered in dust, including its solar panels.
The video added: “If left unchecked they could damage the rover, but it was pictured with no dust a few days later.”
NASA said at the time a Martian guist of wind solved the problem, but the channel questioned if this was lilley and suggested: “Or is it more likely someone cleaned the equipment.”
“If this evidence is to be believed, then does NASA work as part of a secret space programme with a human presence already on Mars.
But the claims were quickly debunked by sceptics in metabunk.org.
In a report, the website said: “This one’s actually pretty easy: The shadow is mostly that of the rover’s arm in its retracted position.
It provided a picture showing the arm in question before its installation.
The report added: “The hand, or tool, is the elbow joint of the rover, with the arm being the top length. You can also see the lower section outlined by the gap letting sunlight through between them – the gap appears more straight than triangular because the arms are spaced horizontally, designed to swing past each other, so the side profile minimizes the gap while sunlight shining mostly down would emphasize it.
“The “astronaut”‘s head is the rover’s tool platform, you can see the openings in the shadow, forming the “visor.”
“If it was a person, there’s nothing there for them to work on – you can see the “tool” is working on something near the camera mast, but if you look at pictures or renderings of the rover itself, there’s nothing there to be fixed.”
NASA categorically denies we are yet able to visit Mars, but it is hoping a manned mission there will be possible within the next 20 years.