Claim: Rock with "appendages" on Mars is an alien or fossil

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
If you actually just zoom in on the original image, it looks like:


It's just ordinary pareidolia
 

patriot

New Member
Curiosity snapped this picture last month and a seemingly unnatural rock formation in the shadow of a cliff has got the attention of many. The 'appendages' do look strange, was wondering if anyone here had insight as to what kind of formation could cause that. First picture is edited by CNet with an arrow to the formation, second is the raw image from NASA.


 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
was wondering if anyone here had insight as to what kind of formation could cause that

It's largely comprised of discrete cosine transforms. aka JPEG artifacts. It appears to be a spot where some lighter colored sand and/or rock has collected in a nook in some darker colored rocks. There's nothing there.



Compressed images are made of 8x8 squares of pixels, each compressed separately, so you get that distinctive grid. Much of the shape is the result of these squares having sharp edges, which gives the illusion of detail. Look at it exploded into individual 8x8 squares:
 
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Spectrar Ghost

Senior Member.
Neat! I just learned something about JPEG compression.

Those appendages do appear to be artifacts of the 8x8 blocks JPEG breaks an image into.

Edit: Well that edit rendered my post irrelevant. ;)
 
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patriot

New Member
Thanks a lot, that zoom does show the compression artifacts better. Some sites had been sharpening it probably with the intent to make it appear alien like.
 

CeruleanBlu

Senior Member.
It was actually taken last year on Sol 710, which corresponds to August 5, 2014.

For those who are interested, I did a search for Sol 710 and came up with a page of raw images taken that martian day.

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/?s=#/?slide=710

Several of these images show the area in question from two different cameras, and in four different photos I've found. I'll skip the OP photo and just add the other 3, but for reference the OP photo is Mast Cam right at Sol 710 (2014-08-05 13:25:07 UTC)


Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 710 (2014-08-05 13:24:36 UTC)


Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 710 (2014-08-05 13:25:02 UTC)


Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 710 (2014-08-05 13:25:24 UTC)
 

Mark Barrington

Active Member
So, dumb question, are the photos from Curiosity sent back to Earth in JPEG format, or is there a raw version available somewhere? It makes sense they would compress the images to save bandwidth, since they don't have all that much, but it would be nice if they had a format without as many compression artifacts as JPEG.
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
So, dumb question, are the photos from Curiosity sent back to Earth in JPEG format, or is there a raw version available somewhere? It makes sense they would compress the images to save bandwidth, since they don't have all that much, but it would be nice if they had a format without as many compression artifacts as JPEG.
They are compressed before sending, as far as I know.

http://www.space.com/16856-mars-rover-curiosity-cameras-vision.html
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
For those who are interested, I did a search for Sol 710 and came up with a page of raw images taken that martian day.

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/?s=#/?slide=710

Several of these images show the area in question from two different cameras, and in four different photos I've found. I'll skip the OP photo and just add the other 3, but for reference the OP photo is Mast Cam right at Sol 710 (2014-08-05 13:25:07 UTC)

Thanks for the link. The rover also took photos of the same spot on Sol 707, and maybe others (I am looking now). Here you can see the "crab" minus appendages:

upload_2015-8-7_10-54-25.png

Zoomed in:

upload_2015-8-7_11-10-12.png

Original full pic: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00707/mcam/0707MR0030040140402483E01_DXXX.jpg



Edit: I haven't found any more, but, off topic, a few days later Curiosity did capture some nice images of the Sun being eclipsed by its moon Phobos!

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00713/mcam/0713MR0030220000402618L01_DXXX.jpg

upload_2015-8-7_11-7-1.png
 
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DavMe

New Member
I couldn't resist making a stereo pair from the 707 and 710 images. Straight on the left pair and crosseyed on the right pair. The only adjustments were levels, a hair of sunshine dimming left of the disk to prevent 3d flicker in 707 and scaling in 710 to 60.1% to match the smaller 707.
Source Images: 0707MR0030040140402483E01_DXXX.jpg and 0710MR0030150070402501E01_DXXX.jpg
These are full-size of the cropped area of interest. The depth is amazing, but likely exaggerated.
LRL-StereoPair.png
 

Fin

Member
Mars Anomalies Round 2.jpg As a fun exercise for my own pareidolia muscles and to try to prove a point to some Martian rock lovers out there, I took a few minutes to see what other interesting "anomalies" I could find in the same photo. Here are the results...
 

Efftup

Senior Member.
That's not how you enhance. This is how you enhance:

I was gonna use that one or the Zoom and Enhance video but I know we have had them both before. The Red Dwarf one is a spoof of both Blade runner and this CSI episode but it is pretty awesome.
 
So are you all saying that its just another rock formation and that the supposed legs are created by the image being blown up? Really because that doesn't explain why its on the cave wall or why it has that circular pattern minus the supposed legs. I like the explanation you've created though, just wish you had more than just a JPEG answer which seems like a fall back standard now a days.
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member.
So are you all saying that its just another rock formation and that the supposed legs are created by the image being blown up? Really because that doesn't explain why its on the cave wall or why it has that circular pattern minus the supposed legs. I like the explanation you've created though, just wish you had more than just a JPEG answer which seems like a fall back standard now a days.
Well with out access to our own multi-billion pound space program with rovers fitted with hi-def cameras, with maybe infra-red, UV and maybe x-ray imagining etc, that would allow us to go to Mars, find the same location and reproduce the shot in different spectra and formats, we can only really go on the NASA jpegs.

Besides as some who follows the Mars images I can assure you that it really is 'just another rock formation' (although geologically interesting in a martian sedimentary strata sort of way). And there is no cave, even the term 'cleft' is pushing it a bit. As for the spider thingy it is very typical of a false image that extreme enhancement throws up. So no reason to suggest it is anything else.

And one final question, IF it was a spider type beastie crawling around on Mars, or even a fossil of one, why would NASA and its associates hush it up? The whole point of going to Mars is in part the quest for alien life, so proof of its existence, and publicising as such, would justify their existing efforts and give them a good case for expanded budgets and more exploration.
 
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Svartbjørn

Senior Member.
So are you all saying that its just another rock formation and that the supposed legs are created by the image being blown up? Really because that doesn't explain why its on the cave wall or why it has that circular pattern minus the supposed legs. I like the explanation you've created though, just wish you had more than just a JPEG answer which seems like a fall back standard now a days.

Actually it DOES explain why its on a cave wall. Two major things occur when people look at rocks etc. First, there's the propensity for people to find patterns where they dont exist.. its an evolutionary thing. Humans have evolved to look for recognizable patterns, thats why we ended up with the constellations. The second, as Mick mentioned, are the issues with digital photos being enhanced. You can only "enhance and zoom" so much before you start losing fidelity and clarity. Pixels act just like the little dots in news print.. they're an optical illusion.

With news print, the dots are so close together that the human eye cant separate them any longer.. UNTIL you get super super close, or you magnify them. Digital photography works EXACTLY the same way. These are the artifacts that Mick is talking about. When the photo is enlarged beyond the resolution than the picture was taken in (because of the limitations of the camera) the pixels begin to break down. Our minds, being what they are, still try to find familiar shapes to latch on to, because thats what theyve evolved to do. You get the same effect when you look at clouds. The clouds arent ACTUALLY shaped like elephants or cars or faces, but our minds SEE them that way because its has a resemblance.

All of us here WANT there to be life on other planets.. its the nerd in us all.. but we're going to be scientific about it. If there's a more reasonable explanation, then thats what you're going to see us go with.. if there's NOT a more reasonable explanation and there's no evidence to support that its life (as there is no such evidence now) then we're going to say "Hey thats neat, lets hope we get some higher resolution shots of it so we can see what it is." If those high res shots come back and its an animal frozen in the rocks.. guess what? we're gonna say "holy SHIT THERES AN ANIMAL FROZEN IN THE ROCK.. FREAKIN SWEET MAN!!!!"
 

The Night Wind

New Member
Mars Anomalies Round 2.jpg As a fun exercise for my own pareidolia muscles and to try to prove a point to some Martian rock lovers out there, I took a few minutes to see what other interesting "anomalies" I could find in the same photo. Here are the results...
We used to the same thing with clouds when were kids. BTW, to the left of your cave painting, I clearly see a gorilla.
 

The Night Wind

New Member
Mars Anomalies Round 2.jpg As a fun exercise for my own pareidolia muscles and to try to prove a point to some Martian rock lovers out there, I took a few minutes to see what other interesting "anomalies" I could find in the same photo. Here are the results...
I found several new 'Faces on Mars' in just the last few minutes! lol And what appears to an occult symbol, indicated by the arrowMars Anomalies Round 2.jpg
 
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