An image captured by NASA has many people wondering if the muppet Beaker has finally been rocketed into space after a science experiment involving him and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew of Muppet Labs has gone wrong. However, as experts point out, this isn’t an image of a Muppet, just a result of something called pareidolia.
According to USA Today, a massive dust storm on Mars in May broke contact between NASA and their Opportunity rover, a robot that “has traversed Mars for over 5,000 days. Because the rover relied on solar power to run, thanks to the dust storm, contact has now been lost.
The Opportunity rover is not the only one on Mars, though, meaning images are still trickling in. NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is also there and, because it is run by nuclear power, there is still contact. As a result of this, there is still images of Mars coming through to scientists. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is also still capturing images of the red planet since the massive dust storm in May. And, it is one of the Reconnaissance Orbiter images that has Muppets fans excited.
On August 13, HiRise NASA posted an image to their official Twitter account which showed some images captured of Mars since the dust storm.
“While the global dust storm has obscured much of the surface, we’ve still been able to get some good images of the polar region,” the tweet stated.
However, it was a follow-up tweet, also from NASA, that has revealed the funny effects of pareidolia.
So, what is pareidolia?
According to Live Science, pareidolia is “the psychological phenomenon of seeing faces (or other familiar patterns) where there aren’t any.”
This means that the human brain, when confronted with images that it can’t decipher, quite often tries to rearrange the image into something it has seen before.
In the paranormal field, pareidolia is often also referred to as matrixing or the matrix effect. In this instance, sometimes people think they see images of ghosts in grainy photos when, in reality, their brain has just assembled what they see into something resembling a person.
And, according to Live Science, this isn’t the first time a case of pareidolia has been reported as a result of images from Mars. There have been images taken of Mars where people have likened them to “a smiley face, Gandhi, a spooky shrouded lady and even Jabba the Hutt.”