The story of the “door” on Mars or what is a pareidolia

In May of this year, a Martian news toured the entire planet Earth. The Curiosity rover, which “lives” on the red planet since 2013, photographed a “door” on Mars.

There were so many speculations about what the rover captured, that the scientific team had to issue a thread of tweets from the account of the @MarsCuriosity to clarify the situation.

It was not really a door, but a a natural geological feature mixed with a bit of pareidoliaa psychological phenomenon where, in a nutshell, humans appreciate recognizable shapes in objects.

And it wasn’t the first time something like this happened.

space oddities

The pareidolia it is described as the human tendency to see recognizable shapes in objects or data that are otherwise unfamiliar, such as eyes and faces in vehicles, windows, or brooms.

From NASA, they have recorded different “family shapes” on Mars and other places in the cosmos, such as galaxies or images of space objects.

“And it’s true, they see something familiar, but it’s really because they’re experiencing pareidolia”, they explain from the Martian science website.

An example of space pareidolia recorded by NASA is that of the pulsar PSR B1509-58, o B1509 (abbreviated), where the object looks like the x-ray of a handfor which the object was also nicknamed “hand of God”.

Other images with pareidolia show “happy faces” on planets, a Muppet on Mars or the Sun with the face of the character Jackcaptured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory and used for the Halloween season.

The door on Mars

Curiosity’s science team explained that it was a geological feature of the planet and not a gate. To verify their claim, they shared a complete overview of the area, since many of the shared images used to be cropped and manipulated.

In the image, there is a small crack in a red circle (less than 30 cm high) between two fractures in a rock. “There are several linear fractures in the mound, but at this point, several fractures intersect, which allowed the rock to break at such sharp angles,” they explained.

So the next time you see a recognizable face or object anywhere in the universe, you know you’re experiencing pareidolia and you won’t be the only one.