NASA’s Curiosity Rover has sent back some amazing images from the surface of Mars. Recently, people on a public spaceflight forum spotted something striking in one of the Mars images – a spoon that looks like it’s hovering just inches above the ground. Scientists say that the object is about 10 centimeters long. People are also spotting other “spoons,” and some also see a chopstick and a cheese grater in the images.
The image was taken on August 30 by the car-sized rover. The space agency says that the objects are probably “ventifacts,” which means rocks shaped by the wind. NASA explains that the sightings are due to pareidolia, the human tendency to see a pattern or meaning where no such meaning exists. Seeing a face on the moon is an example of pareidolia.
Seth Shostak, the Center for SETI Research’s director, says that he hears from people who think they can see car parts or animals on the Mars images. Mars’ atmosphere is thin, and its weak gravity allows the wind to create these delicate, top-heavy shapes.