Yet another case of Mars pareidolia has struck, as UFO watchers claim they have spotted a floating spoon in an image sent back from the Red Planet by NASA’s Curiosity rover.
The photo was first noted by users at the Unmanned Spaceflight forum, as ABC News points out. Taken by the rover’s mastcam on sol 1089 of its mission (August 30), the image appears to depict an object shaped like a spoon floating in midair, complete with its own shadow being cast upon the surface of Mars.
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) September 2, 2015
UFO enthusiasts have long been convinced that signs of intelligent life remain on the surface of Mars, and that they have repeatedly been depicted in images beamed back by NASA’s rovers. Observers have claimed to see alien life forms, faces in the sand of Mars, and even a fully formed pyramid in images returned by the wheeled robots. Most recently, viewers claimed the see the figure of a Martian woman watching the rover, complete with a tiny shelter nearby.
The phenomenon that leads the human mind to identify familiar shapes in seemingly random places is commonly known as pareidolia, as Discovery News points out. This psychological phenomenon allows the brain to interpret visual stimuli as a more familiar object, and it is often found at work on the surface of Mars. One of the most famous examples of this mental inclination is the “Face on Mars,” which was observed in photographs sent back by the Viking spacecraft in the 1970s. More advanced cameras have now shown that formation to be nothing more than the result of shadows and a trick of light.
— C.E.L.L. (@PatriotCELL) August 30, 2015
The surface conditions on Mars facilitate the creation of even more intricate geological structures than those found on Earth, which are formed by wind. The surface of Mars is marked by a thin atmosphere and weak gravity, and the lack of flowing water leads to erosion that is almost exclusively attributable to wind action. This process creates planet-wide dust storms, but it can also be responsible for forming tiny, intricate overhangs, much like the one that has now been identified as the “spoon” on Mars.
Of course, in this most recent case, the object in the image truly does look like a spoon. Even though the structure isn’t actually a spoon, however, it is nonetheless an incredibly interesting find, and one more piece of evidence that the surface of Mars is covered with intricate rock formations.
[Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS]