- NASA’s new image is the latest example of a phenomenon known as pareidolia
- Where the brain wants to understand what the eyes see, it creates something that is not real
Looking at this new image from NASA’s Perseverance rover, you’d be forgiven for thinking something fishy is afoot on the Red Planet.
This is because the car-sized robot took a photo of two separate rocks that resemble a shark fin and a crab claw.
The US space agency shared the latest discovery on X (formerly known as Twitter), sparking a flurry of responses from space fans who joked that the crab-like rock is the remains of the “Great Great Cosmic Crab.”
Others said the “claw” resembled a coffee bean or the head of a turtle “digging a hole for its eggs,” while some quipped that the shark’s fin might actually be the “back plates” of a Stegosaurus dinosaur.
Pictures taken last month are The latest example of a phenomenon known as pareidolia – where the human mind wants to understand what the eye sees and creates an unreal meaning.
Read more: Perseverance rover discovers strange donut-shaped rock on Mars
The most famous thing that happened with Mars was what happened in 1976 when NASA’s Viking 1 spacecraft took a picture of what looked like a carved face on the surface of the red planet.
The US Space Agency explained when it published the image to the public that it was just an illusion caused by shadows, but that did not prevent some from claiming that the face was made by an extraterrestrial being.
NASA did not attempt to put an end to this feverish speculation until 20 years later.
In 1998, the agency’s Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) took images of the so-called “Face on Mars” that were 10 times sharper than Viking 1, revealing it to be a much more natural-looking rocky outcrop.
However, not everyone was convinced.
Some conspiracy theorists clung to the idea that the images had been obscured by fog, only for NASA to prove once and for all in 2001 that it was a common geological feature known as a butte, or mesa, which also exists on Earth.
‘“We imaged the face as soon as we could get a good picture of it,” said Jim Garvin, chief scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program.
“It reminds me a lot of Middle Butte on the Snake River Plain in Idaho.”
“This is an isolated mesa-shaped lava dome about the same height as a face on Mars.”
This is just one example of strange rocks that have been spotted on Mars.
This year alone, the US space agency shared images of a donut-shaped rock and a bone-like stone, while Perseverance’s fellow spacecraft, Curiosity, captured a mysterious feature in a rock face that some claimed was a “doorway.”
This idea was quickly rejected by NASA, when the US space agency revealed that it was only a few inches wide and long, while geologists said it might have been caused by several straight fractures in the concurrent rock face.
The Perseverance rover was launched to Mars in 2020 to search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet.
She is currently exploring an ancient river delta within Jezero Crater, which was once filled with a 1,600-foot-deep lake.
Scientists believe the area hosted microbial life about 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago, so the rover was tasked with examining soil samples to look for evidence of extraterrestrial presence.
In hard work: NASA’s Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter search for life on the Red Planet
NASA’s Mars 2020 mission has been launched to search for signs of ancient life on the red planet in an effort to help scientists better understand how life evolved on Earth in the early years of the solar system’s evolution.
The main rover, named Perseverance, is exploring an ancient river delta inside Jezero Crater, which was once filled with a 1,600-foot-deep lake.
The area is believed to have hosted microbial life about 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago, and the rover will examine soil samples to look for evidence of life.
The $2.5bn (£1.95bn) Mars 2020 spacecraft was launched on July 30 with the rover and helicopter inside, and landed successfully on February 18, 2021.
The rover has landed inside the crater and will slowly collect samples that will eventually be returned to Earth for further analysis.
A second mission will fly to the planet and return samples, perhaps by late 2020 in partnership with the European Space Agency.
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