The Curiosity rover from NASA has discovered a ‘doorway’ on Mars.
A snapshot taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover appears to show a portal into the Martian underworld (or maybe a Martian house). According to Gizmodo, on May 7, Curiosity took a B&W image with its Mastcam that, according to conspiracy theorists’ hopes, is almost probably not proof of life on Mars. This isn’t the first time a rover has discovered something that appears to be buildable. Last year, China’s Yutu 2 rover claimed to have discovered a home on the Moon.
What’s Curiosity up to these days?
Since landing in the Gale Crater in 2012, Curiosity has been slowly trundling around Mars doing science. It has collected rocks, conducted tests, and taken nearly half-a-million images over its 17.3-mile voyage. Overall, the small rover has had a productive decade. (Although it is about 2,000 pounds, we think it’s cute.)
What is the significance of the photograph?
On its trek up the slopes of Aelois Mons, Curiosity captured its most recent intriguing image (or Mount Sharp). The image is a little blurry, but the structure appears to be a man-made (alien-made?) gateway. With the exception of ten or twenty issues.
The photo was discussed with Gizmodo by Ashwin Vasavada, a project scientist at the Mars Science Laboratory. He noted that the structure, despite its apparent immensity, is just around a foot tall. It simply appears larger because to Curiosity’s lens and equipment.
The photo was taken with Curiosity’s right Mastcam lens, which has a focal length of 100mm but a field of view closer to a 500mm equivalent lens in 35mm terms due to the sensor sizes involved. In other words, you’re looking at a very little thing up close and personal via a large lens.
So it’s not a doorway after all?
Curiosity is currently passing through a location where old sand dunes have bonded together over time to form these sandstone outcrops, according to Vasavada.
The fissures in the area are “usually vertical,” according to Vasavada, and were generated by the changing Martian sands, which put the underlying sandstone under variable strain as it was buried and unburied over millennia. “I guess what we have here [is] either two vertical fractures, where the central piece has been gone, or one vertical fracture, and the blocks have migrated apart a little bit,” he speculates.
What about the lines that are straight?
The argument that “nature doesn’t normally do straight lines” was quickly made by some commenters in response to the Gizmodo story. Of course, that is just nonsense.
The Giant’s Causeway, located just a few hours from my home in Dublin, is one of the most well-known instances of nature’s ability to create straight lines. Sandstone, in particular, lends itself to the creation of majestic pillars and arches, both on Earth and on Mars. They’re just a little more weather-beaten here.