Hey, what's that weird thing on Mars?
Internet users are in a frenzy after NASA's Curiosity Rover captured photos of a circular rock formation that has sparked a number of theories ranging from a unique natural phenomenon to alien life, according to the Daily Mail.
"Whatever we're seeing here, it's in a perfect circle and it's much different from the craters that we normally see on Mars and the moon and throughout the other planets in the solar system," one of the people behind SecureTeam10, a YouTube channel that discusses outer space news and extraterrestrial life theories, said in a video. "This almost looks like these rocks were arranged in this circular formation. Either that or this could potentially be some sort of ruin that is a part of a much larger structure, potentially buried."
The narrator added that he had "never seen anything quite like it on Mars" and remarked that "it just looks eerily out of place."
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Not everyone was buying the idea that the rock circle was created by intelligent life forms, however.
"It's most likely geological," said one internet user, according to the Daily Mail. "Different rock minerals can sometimes make circles like that. The outer circle is made of different mineral than surrounding area."
Curiosity, which is approximately the size and weight of a small car, is the fourth rover to land on Mars, notes the Daily Mail. It first started exploring the Red Planet in June 2012 after landing in Gale Crater.
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"When the image was taken, Curiosity was [part of the way] between its investigation of active sand dunes lower on Mount Sharp, and 'Very Rubin Ridge,' a destination uphill where the rover team intends to examine outcrops where hematite has been identified from Mars orbit," NASA said in a statement.
The circular formation is far from the first image that has captured the attention of space enthusiasts and alien life hunters. From structures that some say look intentionally built by living creatures and even a shape that people speculated in 2015 was a woman, notes The Huffington Post.
But the truth, experts say, is that we tend to spot these lifelike shapes due to an old evolutionary trait that has helped humans survive in our earlier years.
"The fact that so many people are adept at playing 'Where’s Waldo?' with rover photos is a testament to our brain's ability to pick out creatures in the visual landscape," Dr. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer and director of the Center for SETI Research, told The Huffington Post. "It's a talent that helped our ancestors avoid predators or catch prey, but it's a poor strategy in the hunt for extraterrestrial life."
Sources: Daily Mail, The Huffington Post, SecureTeam10/YouTube / Photo credit: Pixabay, NASA via Daily Mail, YouTube via Daily Mail, NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona via Daily Mail, JPL via The Huffington Post