Tiny doorway on Mars is actually small crevice in rock: NASA on viral picture
- United States
Recently, NASA shared a picture of Mars captured by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) onboard the agency's Curiosity rover on the Red Planet. The image appeared to show a tiny door on the Martian surface, but now the agency has clarified that it's a natural geologic feature.
The rover captured a mound of rock, nicknamed East Cliffs, on Mount Sharp on May 7, 2022. According to NASA, the mound has a number of naturally occurring open fractures.
Sharing a zoomed-out view of the mound, NASA explained in a series of tweets that the doorway is actually a small crevice (>30 cm tall) between 2 fractures in a rock.
In the new zoomed-out picture shared by the agency, several linear fractures can be seen in the mound, but in the encircled area, several fractures intersect, which allowed the rock to break at such sharp angles, making it look like a doorway.
Here's a zoomed-out view with the feature circled. ⭕ In it, you see a small crevice (>30 cm tall) between 2 fractures in a rock. There are several linear fractures in the mound - but in this spot, several fractures intersect, which allowed the rock to break at such sharp angles. pic.twitter.com/0yHEy1wIfi— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) May 18, 2022
"Some of you have noticed this image I took on Mars. Sure, it may look like a tiny door, but really, it's a natural geologic feature! It may just *look* like a door because your mind is trying to make sense of the unknown. (This is called "pareidolia")," the Curiosity rover team tweeted.
Launched in 2011, NASA's Curiosity is the largest and most capable rover ever sent to the Martian surface. The rover was designed to determine habitability - whether the planet ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes.