Video footage shows the strange discovery uncovered by the Suomi NPP satellite of South America and the neighbouring ocean.
It uses Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) – a device jointly operated by NASA and NAOO – to detect fires.
Thousands of small red circles can be seen dotted around the map, indicating areas that are unusually warm.
But there is one huge red mark in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that puzzled experts and sent conspiracists into meltdown.
“Obviously, a fire isn’t burning in the middle of the ocean”
“We don’t know where or what this is,” Tyler Glockner revealed on his channel secureteam10.
“There is some sort of major heat source coming from below the water.”
More than 95,000 people have seen his clip, with many agreeing something was hidden in the ocean.
“I bet it’s a Russian or Chinese nuclear submarine leaking,” one outrageous comment read.
Another asked: “Could be an underground base?”
But scientists are not convinced.
“Obviously, a fire isn’t burning in the middle of the ocean,” Patricia Oliva, a scientist at Universidad Mayor revealed.
The space agency originally thought it could be caused by natural gas flares, but this can only occur in shallow waters near the coast.
They also explored the possibility of volcanic activity, but there are no active volcanoes nearby.
So Patricia concluded it was “almost certainly SAMA,” in reference to the South Atlantic Magnetic Anomaly.
SAMA is an area where one of Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts comes closer than normal to the Earth’s surface, dropping to an altitude of approximately 200 kilometres.
These belts are zones of energetic charged particles originating from the Sun and are captured and held around the planet by its magnetic field.
As a result, thermal anomalies can appear on the satellite images.
Developers have built a series of filters into the algorithm to remove false signals in this region.
But this one managed to slip through.
“We see probably one or two of these spurious fire detections a night,” Wilfrid Schroeder, the principal investigator for the VIIRS active fire product, said.
“But remember that is in comparison to the thousands of real thermal anomalies [the] satellite detects each night.”