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Woman on Mars? Ghostly Object in NASA Photo Most Likely Dust in the Wind

Image: Woman on Mars? Ghostly Object in NASA Photo Most Likely Dust in the Wind
(Twitter)

By    |   Wednesday, 12 Aug 2015 08:25 AM

A photo of Mars captured by NASA's Curiosity Rover appears to show a ghostly woman standing on a rock outcropping, and now experts are scrambling to explain it.

According to CBS, the "woman" was first spotted by writers at UFO Sightings Daily on Monday.

The feminine apparition was not the first odd object spotted in the Curiosity Rover's photos, however, as many pointed out (particularly on Twitter) what looked like a "man made" pyramid and a crab-like creature bounding around the red surface.




Time magazine's science writer, Jeffrey Kluger, usually tells folks to slow down when they think they've noticed something familiar in photos of other worlds. More often than not, the objects we supposedly make out in grainy photos are nothing at all, and, in this case, the "woman" is most likely literal dust in the wind.

As American cosmologist Carl Sagan explained before him, Kluger said that the human brain is trained to over-calculate a recognition of familiar objects and entities. It’s a concept scientists have named "pareidolia," or a psychological phenomenon that forces humans to see familiar things in unfamiliar patterns.

"The pareidolia phenomenon is actually a deeply rooted one, something that helps infants focus on faces early and also allowed humans in the wild to spot danger easily — picking a potentially menacing human or animal peering out from a backdrop of leaves or scrub," Kluger wrote for Time. "Yes, more often than not it’s a false alarm, but better to overreact 50 times than under-react even once."

In speaking with The Huffington Post about the ghostly Mars "woman," Dr. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer and director of the Center for SETI Research, also pointed to pareidolia.

"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," he said. "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."

The phenomenon is so common that Business Insider has put together a comprehensive list of familiar looking objects photographed on Mars.

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A photo of Mars captured by NASA's Curiosity Rover appears to show a ghostly woman standing on a rock outcropping, and now experts are scrambling to explain it.
woman, mars, photo, ghost, twitter
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2015-25-12
Wednesday, 12 Aug 2015 08:25 AM
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