On May 7, NASA’s Curiosity rover captured an image of what appeared to be a doorway on the surface of Mars.
Since the image was released, social media users have asked whether there is an actual door on Mars, which would be a stunning discovery since no intelligent life has ever been found on the planet.
Did NASA’s Curiosity rover discover a doorway on Mars?
According to a tweet from the account for NASA’s Curiosity rover, run by NASA staff, there isn’t a doorway on Mars.
“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,” the tweet said.
The rock formation was found at the planet’s East Cliffs location, NASA said, specifically on Mount Sharp. On Mount Sharp, there are naturally occurring open fractures, and the one that appears to be a doorway is about 12 inches tall and 16 inches wide.
“These kinds of open fractures are common in bedrock, both on Earth and on Mars,” NASA said. Additional photos captured by the rover from Mount Sharp can be found here.
It’s not uncommon for someone to mistake the fracture for a door - it’s a phenomenon that happens when someone’s brain is trying to “make sense of the unknown” called a pareidolia, the tweet said. NASA said “human brains often try to see shapes that are familiar, something we can relate to” – like when someone looks at the moon and sees the “man in the Moon.”
Some of the tweets about the doorway-like NASA photo questioned the timing of the photo’s release and a congressional hearing on unidentified flying objects.
Congress held a hearing on May 17 to discuss unidentified flying objects (UFOs). There is still no government confirmation of extraterrestrial life, and Congress did not discuss the doorway during the hearing.