West Valley Panorma on Mars.  Image Credit:  NASA / JPL / Cornell / James Canvin

No Humanoid on Mars, Just Rocks

Article Updated: 26 Apr , 2016

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Okay, once and for all, let’s make this clear. In the words of our esteemed Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait, “repeat after me:” A humanoid was not photographed on the surface of Mars. And NASA is not covering up this photo in the name of national security. Furthermore, human missions to Mars have not been cancelled because of this photo. These outrageous notions keep popping up in the media. The photograph, which was taken by Spirit, one of the Mars Exploration Rovers, is just another example of pareidolia, our ability to see patterns in random shapes.

As happens frequently, people tend to see faces or human forms in things like clouds, wood grain, and pancakes. This is only an optical illusion. If you need proof of this, for those of you in the US, look at one of the state-themed quarters from New Hampshire. There you can see the Man in the Mountain, a case of pareidolia that became an historic site (which has since crumbled.)

The photo shown here is the very large panoramic image from which a teeny, tiny rock formation was found that looks kind of human-like. Someone had to be looking really close to see it, as the rock formation is only about 6 centimeters high, and in the image you can also see a hill that’s over 8 kilometers (5 miles) away.

If you have any doubts in your mind that this is nothing more than just a very small, unusual rock formation, please, please, please see Emily Lakdawalla’s thorough explanation of the image at the Planetary Society’s website, which includes 3-D pictures that really make it clear this is not a humanoid. It’s a rock with a funny shape. And Phil the Bad Astronomer has more info on it as well here and here.

And, okay, here’s the really zoomed in image crop that has caused such a hubbub. Just remember how small this rock really is.
tiny detail from a panorama taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit on sol 1,366-1,369 (November 6-9, 2007) of its position on the eastern edge of Home Plate. Credit: NASA / JPL / Cornell

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actionforspace.com
Guest
January 25, 2008 12:13 PM

Alas, no humans on Mars yet. It’s only a matter of time (and lobbying), though.

Polaris93
Member
January 26, 2008 12:47 AM
No matter how thorough an explanation of the phenomenon is given, and no matter how much objective evidence of whatever kind is given in support of that explanation, believers will never, never, ever give up their belief about it. Unfortunately, because of the deterioration of public education in this country and elsewhere, not to mention pernicious media influence, there are altogether too many of this sort of believer in a) conspiracies, whether by scientists or anyone else, and b) unproven interpretations of such phenomena. More and more Americans — per capita as well as in absolute numbers — don’t know how to think, don’t know that it is important to think analytically about these things, don’t know anything… Read more »
Agent Spooky
Guest
Agent Spooky
January 25, 2008 9:34 PM

No truth in this article, just cover-ups.

Elijah
Guest
Elijah
January 25, 2008 10:10 PM

It’s actually an ancient stone statue left over from times before the human exodus from Mars to Earth. duh guyz.

marcellus
Guest
marcellus
January 26, 2008 8:04 AM

I know folks that I would ordinarily consider to be “normal”, that I care about and respect (for the most part), that still don’t believe the U.S. landed men on the Moon in the late sixties and early seventies.

It just goes to show you that LOTS of people just aren’t that smart. (Love the Black Death comment.)

El Deano
Guest
El Deano
January 26, 2008 6:01 AM

“As happens frequently, people tend to see faces or human forms in things like clouds, wood grain, and pancakes. This is only an optical illusion. If you need proof of this, for those of you in the US, look at one of the state-themed quarters from New Hampshire. There you can see the Man in the Mountain, a case of pareidolia that became an historic site (which has since crumbled.)”

And not forgetting Mount Rushmore of course.

John chatelle
Guest
John chatelle
January 26, 2008 6:18 AM

The Worst Part is the “where’s waldo” effect.
Dang if I could find it in the Panorama.

The Scott
Guest
The Scott
January 26, 2008 7:52 AM

Totally don’t see it. Is this the picture in question? Where is it?

rob mince
Guest
rob mince
January 26, 2008 9:05 AM

Seeing faces in stuff is akin to the Gestalt Psychology phenomenon where our eyes and mind tend to seek completion of an image or to make sense of things that don’t necessarily have any sense about them. The Mars image seems to be such a case. For some reason, there are people whose brains are completing an image that is hinted at by their brains. I also we humans feel very alone in the universe and jump at the chance to find a way to cancel our loneliness……..I also believe we’re not alone, but proof may be far away, far far in the future……I hope it’s today!

Gort
Guest
Gort
January 26, 2008 10:25 AM

marcellus,

Men went to the Moon? Impossible! I Do believe Big Foot went to Mars though.

I have a really high IQ of 27.

Seymour Marsfaces
Guest
Seymour Marsfaces
January 26, 2008 11:47 AM

Actually , it sort of resembles a Martian Mermaiden (or her brother) … like in Copenhagen sitting on a rock and maybe placed there Eons ago as evidence of past Oceans on Mars……
They should definitely get closer and view it from different angles to make sure …..

Todd Sieling
Guest
January 26, 2008 11:50 AM

I’m all for debunking where needed, but when science advocates and skeptics take the tone of “repeat after me” they sound more like dogmatists than anything.

N Stone
Guest
N Stone
January 26, 2008 2:03 PM

its amazing how many people believe in crap like this, I cant even find it!

Ian Kirk
Guest
Ian Kirk
January 26, 2008 2:05 PM

Sorry I just can’t see it, looks like a piece of rock to me! Really had to squint at the close up too. Is this something wrong with me or do these conspiracy theory people have overactive imaginations? Perhaps they should turn their hands to script writing?

Kevin M.
Guest
Kevin M.
January 26, 2008 6:34 PM

I like the mermaid concept. Say what you will, it is an extremely evocative image. In the end, inspiring the public’s imagination may be more important than just grinding out facts. This may launch a thousand new sci-fi novels. It’s another classic for the x-files.

Ronald
Guest
January 27, 2008 3:12 AM
We are not alone in the universe. The universe is infinite. Do you realy think we are the only civilizacion in this vast universe you got be crazy or dumb to believe in this concept. The picture of the humanoid is real , take a look at it very close is brought day light this is a desert all the rocks are the same colors clearly I can see an arm the legs the torso and head you can see this creature is walking down hill. Nasa should have more pictures of this precise location if they took more shots on sequences that can tell you if this creature was moving or not . Why Nasa don’t show… Read more »
dpeemagu
Guest
dpeemagu
January 27, 2008 12:05 AM

“And not forgetting Mount Rushmore of course.”

Perfecto!!!

Nancy Atkinson
Guest
Nancy Atkinson
January 27, 2008 9:27 AM

You can see every picture taken by the Mars rovers at this website:
http://marsrover.nasa.gov/home/index.html
Every single raw and processed image that the rovers have taken are available for anyone to look at.

Chuck Lam
Guest
Chuck Lam
January 27, 2008 5:41 PM

Whow! Most of you guys sound like your nuts! Where in the universe is your thinking coming from? This thing on Mars is simply a rock formation. Get over it! Put the comic books away. Move on.

Brian
Guest
Brian
January 27, 2008 6:04 PM
I agree with several people who have posted about this. We consciously (or unconsciously) try to see familiar shapes in things whose shape is not easily definable (cat shaped cloud, for instance). True, if you do look closely, it does “appear” to look humanoid. However, how many other times in history have we claimed that we have seen evidence of life on other planets (or moons). The man on the moon? The face carved into a mountain on Mars? Both of these and more have been examined, and proven to be natural formations. Besides, even if there was something alive there, it would need something to eat and drink, and I don’t think that rock and dust would… Read more »
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