Famous Historical Icons That May Not Have Existed
Imagine living on a planet where the temperature drops to -95°C at night and barely rises above -10°C during the day. There’s a constant threat of dust devils—tiny whirlwinds that look like tornadoes. And the ground trembles. For humans exploring Mars, this could be a reality! For decades, robots examining the red planet’s surface have been sending images of a strange world full of mysteries. While scientists have tried to explain some of these images in the past, others are so strange … even NASA can’t explain them. Human-made or otherwise, here are some of the weirdest discoveries made on Mars.
NASA’s Curiosity rover discovered an apparent piece of plastic wrap on the surface of Mars shortly after landing, which turned out to be ... plastic wrap. Yep, that's true! After some head-scratching moments, Curiosity’s team concluded that the plastic fragment came from the rover itself, specifically from a cable that possibly became loose during landing.
Just a few months after it landed on Mars, the Opportunity rover spotted an odd-looking patch of rocks on the planet's surface. Unsure of what these objects were, the scientists dubbed these spherical rocks as “blueberries.” While the scientists couldn’t figure out what led to the odd shapes, they believe it to be one of the earliest signs of Mars' watery past.
In 2010, NASA's Opportunity rover discovered a strange structure on Mars' surface that resembles the face of a Neo-Assyrian deity. Or at least, that’s what the UFOlogists believed. But NASA doesn’t believe this is true. Probably because, like us, when they look at the pattern in question, all they see is a strangely formed rock formation.
In 2007, the Spirit Rover sent back images of what looked like a human sitting atop a boulder. Unsurprisingly, the image created a lot of hype, but it all died down when NASA ruled it out as proof of life on Mars. Just like the previous discovery, this also turned out to be a rather deceptive rock.
In 2014, the Curiosity rover captured a beautiful image of the Kimberley Waypoint in Gale Crater. But it also captured a mysterious light off in the distance that led to crazy theories like an alien civilization living beneath the surface of Mars. However, according to NASA, the speck of light was most likely produced by a cosmic ray, which resulted in a visual effect on the photograph.
In 2008, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a cloud of puff particles upward at a cliff. People were baffled after the discovery; some even thought Mars had a secret factory! But in reality, it was caused by a fall of carbon dioxide frost. According to NASA, this type of event occurs mostly during the planet's springtime, which corresponds to April and early May on Earth.
As you might have guessed from the title, this strange discovery had to do with food too, but it was doughnuts this time. In 2014, mysterious objects that looked like powdery, jelly-like doughnuts appeared in front of the Opportunity Rover’s camera. The scientists were baffled, and it took months of analysis and study to determine that these were just rocks that the rover's wheels had moved when driving around.
You can find gold in those Martian hills! At least, that’s what it looked like when the Curiosity rover came across this gleaming rock in 2018. But scientists believe it could be a meteorite, similar to the rover’s discovery in 2015, where a huge metal meteorite was found on Mars.
Although the Opportunity rover could never prove the existence of life on Mars, it did send an image in 2004 that made many people’s hearts race. It discovered a strange object that looked like a long-eared bunny rabbit! But NASA engineers ruled out the possibility of being a living creature, stating that it was possibly a soft material such as cotton that could've just come from the vehicle.
NASA's Viking 1 probe stunned the world when it captured the “Face of Mars” in 1976. Some people viewed the nearly 2-mile-long apparent face as a monument to a long-forgotten Martian civilization. But NASA described the feature as a “huge rock formation...that resembles a human head...formed by shadows giving the illusion of eyes, nose, and mouth.”
In 2012, the Curiosity rover sent back images of a group of dark rocks called Rocknest. It didn’t take long for the eagle-eyed UFOlogist, Scott C. Warning, to identify an apparent squirrel in the picture, saying it was a “cute rodent on Mars” with its body clearly visible. But if you look at the image carefully, you’ll realize it’s just another rock and not a squirrel. Most probably, Warning suffered from what we call pareidolia, a tendency of spotting familiar objects in random things.
You must be wondering: Why is this dune blue? Is it an indication that Mars' surface is blue and not red? Wait, let us clear things up for you. First of all, the surface of Mars is not blue. And secondly, the dune is blue because the image was taken in infrared light to help display the composition of sand there. Remember, there's a reason why Mars is called the "Red Planet!"
In 2014, NASA’s Curiosity rover sent back images of an unusual rock that looked like a femur bone from a human thigh. People came up with strange theories again, claiming that the rocks were actually human remains. But according to scientists, the oddly-shaped rock was most likely the product of wind or water erosion. Scientists would want to scream it from the rooftops if NASA ever discovered human remains on Mars!
In 2018, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered a tadpole-like structure on the red planet’s surface. But it turned out to be a circular crater with a carved-out tail due to water movement. While Mars has had a long-distance watery past, it doesn’t currently support amphibian life, so a tadpole … not possible!
The world was taken by surprise once again in 2016 when NASA’s Curiosity rover spotted a strange jet on the surface of Mars. But in reality, it was just a dust devil, much like what we experience here on Earth. However, these towering dust devils are a weather hazard on Mars, and future human visitors should be prepared to deal with them.
If the statue and weird tadpole-like crater weren't enough to explain how bizarre the red planet's discoveries can get, here's another weird structure found on Mars. In 2009, the Opportunity Rover spotted a strange rock on the red planet’s surface. After composition measurements, NASA's team confirmed that this rock was actually an iron-nickel meteorite.
In 2016, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted some unusual structures on the Red Planet's surface—black, raised areas that resemble the dots and dashes of Morse code. Unfortunately, though, the code spells out gibberish. Planetary scientist Veronica Gray told Gizmodo that the code reads “NEE NED ZB 6TNN DEIBEDH SIEFI EBEEE SSIEI ESEE SEEE !!” If you can comprehend what that means, do let us know!
NASA’s Curiosity rover captured an image in 2016 that reveals a strange fish-shaped structure on the red planet’s surface. But don’t get excited; it wasn’t a fish. In fact, it was just a rock. The fish-like appearance was caused by a combination of the rock's shape and the lighting at the time of the shot.
After capturing a glimpse of hematite-rich "blueberries" in 2004, the Opportunity rover captured a similar formation in 2012 at an outcrop known as Kirkwood. As per NASA, these spherules were not only lower in iron than blueberries, but also had different concentrations, distribution, and structure.
In 2017, NASA’s Curiosity rover spotted a spherical object on the red planet’s surface that looked like a cannonball. Some people suggested it was leftover from a war on the planet. But according to NASA, it was a mineral concentration composed of calcium sulfate, sodium, and magnesium.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a scaly pattern on the Red Planet’s surface in 2017, dubbed “Dragon Scales of Mars” by NASA. But these scales were not from a mythical creature. In fact, scientists believe the patterns were formed as a result of erosion.
Curiosity rover's discovery caught everyone off-guard once again in 2018 when it spotted a bright, shiny object tucked into the dull Martian soil. Later, NASA scientists confirmed that the tiny bright object was actually a part of the geology of Mars. But that wasn't the only shiny piece discovered on the red planet.
The Mars blueberries and jelly doughnut didn’t work out, but NASA wasn’t done with the food-shaped structures on Mars just yet. In 2014, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a strange waffle-shaped island on the red planet’s surface. Since the feature was located in a lava flow field, most likely, it was the result of lava pushing the formation up.
This close-up image of Mars taken by the Curiosity rover reveals some stick-like figures on the red planet’s surface, which are about a quarter long. Scientists speculate they might be minerals that filled in spaces where crystals had formed but then dissolved. But people have weird theories about it, ranging from tire tracks to Viking runes.
In 2016, the Curiosity rover spotted another strange rock structure that left people curious. Some people thought that the random rock looked like a skull; to be more precise, a Bigfoot skull. But it wasn’t a skull; in fact, it was just a rock. Hopefully, this will inspire some fun sci-fi stories, though, such as “The Sasquatch Skull On Mars.” What do you think?
Some people believed they'd discovered proof of alien life on Mars while going through images sent back by NASA’s Curiosity rover in late 2016. The images showed a structure resembling a human face; to be more precise, a kissing human face. See, it’s definitely a cool discovery, but it’s not proof of alien existence on Mars. As we've said before, people often notice such shapes in random things due to a condition called pareidolia. So, alien fans, please calm down!
Who says scientific discoveries are boring? In 2018, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered a Pac-Man crater on the red planet’s surface! Thanks to the crescent-shaped barchan dune inside that gave the impact crater the retro video game look.
In October 2016, the European Space Agency's ExoMars mission was derailed when its Schiaparelli lander crashed-landed on Mars. When the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took an image of the crash site to help investigators determine what happened to the ill-fated lander, it spotted a dark patch on Mars. That wasn't it, though! The unfortunate lander's parachute and heatshield were also visible in other areas of the image.
In 2017, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a sequence of squiggly lines on the red planet’s surface. The lines are actually linear gullies, most likely caused by dry ice sliding down dune slopes. But people have their own strange idea about the lines, ranging from eyelashes to claw marks!
The Eagle Crater on Mars has these distinctive-looking circular shapes. Examine the one on the upper right-hand side closely. Is there a tiny dot on the inside? That was the lander that brought the Mars Opportunity rover to the surface in 2004. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
The Curiosity rover spotted this rock on Mars’ surface in 2016. The scientists dubbed the rock as “Egg Rock,” but that’s not because it looks like an egg! In fact, it’s not even close to what an egg looks like. It’s just a weird little iron meteorite that was spotted in the Gale Crater.
You might think that it looks like an ant farm, but that’s not the case here. In fact, this is the South Pole of Mars. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took the image you see above in 2016. NASA says, "the polar cap here is made from carbon dioxide, which doesn’t exist naturally on earth." Well, given its weird look, it's actually fine that these shapes don't exist on Earth.
These lovely spiral patterns are known as lava coils. No, we aren’t making this up! The University of Arizona that works with the HiRise camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, explained that these coils are formed when two lava flows in opposite directions mingle and swirl. Do you believe us now?
The European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter captured this view of Mars in 2018. Some viewers believed it was a picture of an active volcano on the planet's surface. But what we're actually seeing is a cloud that has formed near the volcano Arsia Mons. There is no eruption in this region.
NASA’s Curiosity rover noticed this oddly-shaped object on the red planet’s surface in 2018. The space agency was worried that it might be a small fragment of the rover, but a closer examination revealed this potential "foreign object debris" was a flake-like piece of the natural Mars landscape.
This picture, taken by Mars Curiosity in early 2013, shows a hunk of metal hanging out from the surface of the red planet. The structure's metal-like look prompted some people to speculate this was a race of metal-forging aliens. Well, it would be fun if that was true, but the explanation is too plain. The object is most likely a meteorite fragment or the product of unusual lighting. It's not an alien effigy, for sure.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted this pattern in 2018. Scientists believe the neat piles were formed by a "frost heave" process in which the rocks were forced into neat shapes by freeze-thaw cycles. And since the pattern looked like an unusually well-ordered sequence of boulder piles, NASA captioned the image with the dramatic title “The Case of the Martian Boulder Piles.”
These mysterious and oddly-shaped patterns not only look strange but have also left the scientists baffled as to how they were formed. Some speculate it's related to Mars’ watery past, while some believe it was formed due to mineral deposition. What do you think about it?
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a familiar Muppet face on the red planet’s surface in 2018. People believed it resembled "Beaker the lab assistant" from The Muppet Show. But in reality, such shapes are often found in the southern polar caps, where the pits and mesas take on strange shapes.
No, they aren't giant alien spiders; instead, they're just cracks in the red planet’s surface. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this image in 2018, showing an area of the South Pole of Mars where cracks have appeared on the surface. These cracks are thought to have formed when carbon dioxide erupted from melting ice and dispersed into the atmosphere.
After looking at this image, we can only say two things: Either NASA's Curiosity rover crashed a Martian picnic, or it’s a fortuitously shaped rock formation. Well, if it’s a genuine spoon, Martians most likely used it to eat the “jelly donut.”
This fascinating snapshot of Mars is dubbed the "brain terrain," and it's one of the planet's unresolved mysteries. It's thought that when water sublimates (turns into a gas) and emerges from the ground, it creates these strange and wonderful shapes. However, more evidence is needed to prove this claim.
In 2017, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured images of an oddly-shaped formation surrounded by dunes in an area called Noctis Labyrinthus, which translates "labyrinth of the night." According to NASA, the strange structure was possibly a layered mesa that was formed due to sedimentary deposits.
This strange pit is located in a region in the planet’s South pole. And honestly, the image's late-summer, low-sun timing really makes the circle stand out against the background. But according to NASA, it’s not a pit. Instead, the space agency suggests that the circular structure is most likely an impact crater.
Mars is a crazy place. Given that, it doesn’t seem strange that so many weird objects have been found on the red planet’s surface over the years. By the way, which one of these discoveries surprised you the most? Do let us know! And if you enjoyed reading the article, don’t forget to share it with others. See you soon. Until then, keep reading!