NASA Mars orbiter discovers ‘bear’s face’ on Red Planet

NASA Mars orbiter discovers ‘bear’s face’ on Red Planet

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a geological formation resembling a bear's face on the Red Planet's surface

NASA astronomers have discovered a strange rock formation on Mars resembling a bear’s face.

While there are no extraterrestrial grizzlies inhabiting the Red Planet that we know of so far, a weird geological formation spotted by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has triggered online pareidolia — the human tendency to perceive random patterns as familiar objects.

Researchers at the University of Arizona, which runs the HiRise (High Resolution Imaging Experiment) camera aboard the orbiter, featured an image of the “bear on Mars” on their website Wednesday.

The ursine rock formation consists of twin craters with an appearance not unlike the eyes of the Martian bear, especially when pictured with a distinct snout-like hill —according to UOA professor Alfred McEwen.

“There’s a hill with a V-shaped collapse structure (the nose), two craters (the eyes), and a circular fracture pattern (the head),” the HiRise researcher noted in a statement.

He explained further: “The circular fracture pattern might be due to the settling of a deposit over a buried impact crater. Maybe the nose is a volcanic or mud vent and the deposit could be lava or mud flows?”

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In good company

Measuring nearly 2,000 metres across, the bear-like feature found in December 2022 wasn't the first MRO discovery to intrigue scientists.

The expedition, which continues to study the surface of Mars in its 17th year since launch, has previously introduced people back on Earth to the Happy Face Crater, a supposed portrait of Beaker the Muppet and, strangely enough, the "grinning face of Ed Asner".

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