A 2014 Mars photo that strangely reappeared in tabloids this month shows no thigh bone amid the rubble of the Red Planet. Like all previous photos, the object you see is just a simple old Martian rock. And NASA exposed it six years ago.
The picture was taken on August 14, 2014 with the Curiosity Rover’s MastCam and quickly spread to conspiracy theorists as evidence that Mars was once home to life, causing the space agency to correct the record.
“Seen from the Mars Rover Curiosity with its MastCam, this Martian rock could look like a femur of the femur. Members of the Mission Science team believe that its shape is likely to be shaped by erosion, either wind or water,”
“If there were ever life on Mars, scientists expect it to be small, simple life forms called microbes. Mars probably never had enough oxygen in its atmosphere and elsewhere to support more complex organisms large fossils unlikely. “
Seeing patterns in random configurations is not a new phenomenon. You probably do it every day without realizing it – whether it’s a face in your outlet or a paw print in the lather on your shower door. This phenomenon is called pareidolia and is thought to occur when some parts of the brain process visual information and reach conclusions before the rest of your brain catches up.
Here on Earth, most people recognize their pareidolia for what it is, but for some reason – maybe because we can’t go there and nudge the objects in question – pareidolia on Mars is a fertile area for conspiracy theorists.
Many rocks have triggered imaginary flights over signs of old life or even about full civilizations on Mars. Perhaps the most famous was the image of a region called Cydonia, taken in 1976 and designed to show a massive sculpture of a face (later high-resolution images showed that it was … just a rock formation).
There is also the Mars Bigfoot, the Mars cannonball, the Mars spoon, the Mars warrior and the Mars “Assyrian God”. Last year, a scientist claimed to have identified petrified insects on Mars. Another claimed to have found mushrooms. However, there is absolutely no evidence that these images show anything other than weathered rocks.
We have been sending missions to Mars since the 1960s, including four successful rovers and five successful lander. Scientists are itching to find signs of life on this dusty red stone ball – past or present. Not only would it be fascinating to see what extraterrestrial life looks like, it would also be incredible proof that Earth is not unique in the universe.
Our efforts are currently focused on microbes. As NASA has noted, the Martian environment is unlikely to be and may never have contributed to more complex life. If more complex life has flourished on Mars in the past billion years, our rovers and orbiters have found absolutely no evidence of this.
Whoever makes this first discovery will go down in history (and be a very strong Nobel Prize candidate); Scientists have no interest in covering up evidence of life on Mars. This vaguely femur-shaped rock just isn’t.
Why, six years after it was discovered and unmasked, the image reappears in tabloids is your guess as good as ours.