Only a few days ago, everyone had a good laugh at the expense of woo-meisters trying to pawn off a martian tortoise as an Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator.1 I’ve seen better shopping on Black Friday.
Most anomalies ‘discovered’ by America’s remaining rovers on Mars can be written off as simple simulacra, or persnickety pareidolia. In case you’re wondering, simulacra is an object with a superficial resemblance to another object.2
Pareidolia, on the other hand, is the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning that doesn’t actually exist.3
But this image4 is too good to be true. Snapped back on Sol 732, or 2014-08-28 05:23:21 UTC to us puny earthlings, this gem has been hidden in plain sight for those with an eye for the weird, and extraterrestrial rock hounds.
It takes no stretch of the imagination to see the mandible, and teeth are plain to see towards the front of the snout. Too bad there isn’t anything to give a sense of scale, whether this object is the size of a mouse, (fancy,5 not house) or large as a blockheaded Rottweiler is left to speculation.
While NASA is content to publicize Curiosity’s selfies, completely ignoring weird lights,6 images like this could generate interest in America’s beleaguered space program. Not to mention it’s fun to piss off grayfaces like Phil Plait and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Hie thee to the website for Jack Parson’s Laboratory to scour Curiosity’s archive of raw images. After all, you might find something that will change the perceptions of our red neighbor, and life in the universe.7