Fact check: NASA spots a weird-shaped rock on Mars, but it's not an alien doorway
An image captured by NASA's Curiosity rover has been doing the rounds on social media and has piqued the interest of the public. At first glance, the image seems to show a doorway and the surroundings look like a wall. So, have we found something on Mars? Let's find out.
The image was captured by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity which made its way to the Red Planet in 2012. On its mission day Sol 3466, the rover's mast camera (Mastcam) captured the image, which was later shared by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), just the way it does with all other images, it receives from the over.
Where is NASA's Curiosity Rover now?
When there is something so intriguing in an image, one definitely wants to know where it was shot. Curiosity is currently near Mount Sharp not very far from the Gale Crater, where it landed way back in 2012.
Mount Sharp has an elevation of 18,000 feet (5,486 m) and Curiosity has been carefully surveying the mountain and its surroundings as part of its preparations to scale it, Vice reported.
Yes, you read it right. A man-made rover on another planet, trying to scale one of the mountains there. That's what Curiosity is.
The image is one of the many images that the rover has been taking as part of its preparation to understand the mountainous surface better.
Is it a doorway then?
Of course not. What has been shared on social media is one of the highly zoomed-in images of the terrain that the rover has taken and uses it with other such zoomed-in images to stitch together a high-definition mosaic of the terrain.
A JPL spokesperson told Snopes in an email that what appears like a doorway is actually a crevice on a Martian rock. By their estimates, the crevice is about approximately 11 inches wide and 17 inches across (30 cm X 45 cm), rather small for a doorway.
The artificial wall is just linear fractures on the surface and not the creation of an alien life form.
So, while the image is not fake, it cannot be taken at face value either.
The next thing we can get excited about is when Curiosity scales the Martian mountain.
Marianne Paguia Gonzalez, a technologist and systems engineer at JPL-NASA, gives us insights into her work for the space agency and a whole lot of pointers on getting into NASA.