Mars Curiosity rover can't seem to get a break from the weirder side of humanity's search for alien life. While more serious scientists actually consider possibilities of discovering traces of microbial life -- past or present -- on the Martian landscape, armchair astrobiologists find more joy in finding potential artifacts that may provide evidence of thriving civilizations on Mars.
Over the past few days, alien hunting enthusiasts have been talking about one such "find" -- an ancient cat statue reportedly discovered by Curiosity rover on a particular segment on Mars' surface. YouTuber UFOvni2012 was one of the first to spot the alleged anomaly using publicly available NASA images.Here is the picture of interest: an image of a section of seemingly normal rocks taken by Mars Curiosity rover mid-2014.
However, UFOvni2012 and other alien aficionados have implied that the images aren't as normal as it appears. Using the magic of MS Paint, the UFO YouTuber kindly illustrated for us what we are supposed to see.
There you go! A Mars cat statue as promised. You'd have to squint a bit to make out the cat details, even with "proper" markers placed. Of course it could all be just the alien hunters wanting to see what they want to see, but hey, where's the fun in not finding stuff?
A cognitive phenomenon has long since explained why people tend to see vague images in places where they don't really exist, like the claimed Curiosity rover find above. Psychologists call it pareidolia, and Live Science says it commonly happens with religious sightings of vague images in seemingly normal objects. However, pareidolia isn't just limited to finding the Virgin Mary on a half-eaten sandwich. It can also explain sightings such as the Mars cat statue discovery shown above.
Scientists aren't closing their doors to finding and discovering actual evidence of life on Mars. Recently, researchers were excited to learn that spikes on the methane levels Curiosity rover recently discovered in the Martian atmosphere might actually hint at microbial life on our neighboring planet. Although scientists can't say for certain, they are considering their existence an actual possibility. Scientist Paul Mahaffy said, "[And] we certainly should have an open mind. Maybe there are microbes on Mars cranking out methane, but we sure can't say that with any certainty. It's just speculation at this point."
Mars Curiosity Rover will be the basis of a non-manned mission expected to launch in 2020.
[Images from NASA]