Science & Tech

New photo from Mars has become a viral optical illusion

New photo from Mars has become a viral optical illusion
HiRISE Astronomers Discover a Mysterious Animal on Mars

For hundreds of years, humans have wondered if there’s life on Mars, but not many people would have expected to see a bear on the red planet.

And yet, this is precisely what numerous fans spotted on its surface thanks to newly released NASA photos.

Earlier this week, the space agency published images taken by the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), which is the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet and one of six instruments onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The footage, taken on 12 December, includes stunning pictures of impact craters and mysterious ridges. But the snap that’s really seized viewers’ attention and imagination is of a formation that looks uncannily like a face.

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Twitter users were quick to offer their interpretations of the rocky feature, with many saying it was a doppelganger for Paddington Bear or the iconic meme-turned-cryptocurrency Doge.

So what actually is it?

According to the team of geologists and scientists who manage the HiRISE, it’s made up of a hill with a V-shaped collapse structure (the nose), two craters (the eyes) and a “circular fracture pattern” (the head).

“The circular fracture pattern might be due to the settling of a deposit over a buried impact crater,” they say.

The nose could be a volcanic or mud vent and the deposit could be lava or mudflows, they suggest.

HiRISE (NASA): A Bear on Mars?

But, for now, their advice to space fans is to just “grin and bear it”.

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