by Stephanie Pappas via Live Science
Continue Reading: Mars Hoaxes: Why We Believe
by Mike Wall via Space.com
A Mars rock that bears a passing resemblance to a rodent is scuttling across the Internet with gusto, even inspiring some fans to set up a Twitter account in its name.
UFO buffs spotted the purported “Mars rat” in a panoramic photo snapped in September 2012 by NASA’s Curiosity rover. Zooming in on a portion of the image reveals what appears to be a rodent crouching between two rocks, its nose to the ground.
“It’s a cute rodent on Mars. Note its lighter-color upper and lower eyelids, its nose and cheek areas, its ear, its front leg and stomach,” Scott Waring wrote at UFO Sightings Daily back in December. “Looks similar to a squirrel camouflaged in the stones and sand by its colors.”
In an update to that post, Waring raised the possibility that NASA flew the rat/squirrel to Mars secretly, as part of an experiment testing out the Red Planet’s ability to support life as we know it.
“Why would they not tell us about it?” Waring wrote. “Because the squirrel would be expected to die eventually and that would get PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] to fight against them in a court of law.”
The Mars rat has now gone viral, jumping from the pages of UFO Sightings Daily to more mainstream publications such as Discovery News, Fox News and a host of other outlets (including, of course, SPACE.com).
The rodent has even picked up its own Twitter account, @RealMarsRat. Just 49 people were following the rat as of Friday afternoon (May 31), but that’s still pretty good for a rodent.
While some people seem to really believe that a squirrel is crawling around on the Red Planet (or was in September, anyway), the Mars rodent is actually an example of a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia.
Pareidolia refers to the tendency of the human brain to perceive animals or other familiar shapes in vague or random images. The phenomenon has fueled a great deal of excited speculation about the Red Planet over the years, most famously after some people saw a humanoid face on Mars in photos taken by NASA’s Viking 1 orbiter in 1976.
And just this March, UFO Sightings Daily reported that an apparent animal, perhaps a rat or a lizard, lurked in another one of Curiosity’s photos.
It’s highly unlikely that a rat, squirrel, lizard or any other organism could survive on the cold, dry Martian surface today, researchers say, though some scientists think the Red Planet may still be able to support microbial life in select underground pockets.
Things were likely different in Mars’ wetter and warmer past, however. Curiosity’s observations led mission scientists to announce earlier this year that microbes could have survived on the Red Planet billions of years ago.
- ‘Mars Rat’ Taking Internet by Storm (space.com)
- Mars rat? Blogger spots ‘creature’ in NASA Curiosity rover image (myfox8.com)
Is there something on Mars they don’t want us to see, or is it just a big old red desert, as we’re led to believe?
Last week the latest in tip-top technology NASA have soldered together landed on the red planet safely in the latest bid to provide us earthlings with information from our neighbors. Yet, only moments after the Curiosity rover landed, the conspiracy world went abuzz once more with stories about the Martian landscape. Our intrepid robot explorer seemed to photograph a massive crash or explosion in the distance, sparking rumors that it was an alien craft that Curiosity had caught crashing into the Martian surface. But engineers were soon out with their pens and rulers and supercomputers trying to explain what the photographs had shown. And they came back with this explanation; the ‘explosion’ captured by Curiosity was actually its landing device, or ‘Sky Crane’ which helped to lower the rover into the Mars atmosphere, which had severed itself from Curiosity and purposely crash landed, some 2,000 feet away, in the distance, thus causing this pyramid shape of soil and debris flung into the air by the craft. The fact that gravity is 38% less of that on Earth was the reason that Curiosity managed to capture the event. Yet many scientists still claim that it was statistically impossible for the rover to capture its own crash landing. And so more doubt has been cast over what is really going down on the Martian surface, hmmm…
Of course, this isn’t the first theory that Mars was or is inhabited by some extraterrestrial beings. The theories go way back, and involve a whole plethora of dubious yet somewhat enthralling research and imagery, mainly thanks to our recent ‘human’ presence on the red planet. Of course this ‘research’ goes from being in the ‘hmm, that’s kind of interesting’ variety to the, ‘wow that person should be in a padded cell’, end of things. The classic example is the face on Mars in the Cydonia region of the planet as snapped by the Viking 1 Orbiter back in 1976, which has sparked many a debate surrounding the idea that our neighbor Mars was once inhabited. And then the monumentally less impressive ‘skull’ which was just laying about the surface, and not to mention the dead storm trooper that somehow strayed from his pals, a deserter of the Empire, perhaps. My personal favourite though, is what has been dubbed the Mars mermaid, or the ‘Woman of Mars’. What is more than likely an oddly weathered rock formation does look creepily like a woman pointing to something, but to what!? Sadly no follow up pictures were ever snapped, so we’re left wondering.
- Why Mars Rover Curiosity Is Likely to Find ‘Martians’ (livescience.com)
- Mars rover tracks, arm shown in new photos (fox6now.com)
- Curiosity rover ‘sniffs’ Martian air to measure its composition – Zee News (zeenews.india.com)