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A NASA spacecraft discovers a formation on Mars resembling a bear

The University of Arizona shared an image, pictured, of a formation on Mars that resembles a bear.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UArizona
The University of Arizona shared an image, pictured, of a formation on Mars that resembles a bear.

Scientists found an unexpected discovery on the surface of Mars: a formation resembling the face of a bear.

A camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped a photo of the formation on Dec. 12. The University of Arizona, which operates the camera, shared the image on Wednesday.

Two beady eyes are formed by two craters. A hill with a "V-shaped collapse structure" resembles a snout. A "circular fracture pattern" outlines a head.

"The circular fracture pattern might be due to the settling of a deposit over a buried impact crater," the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory says. "Maybe the nose is a volcanic or mud vent and the deposit could be lava or mud flows?"

"Maybe just grin and bear it," the University of Arizona adds.

It isn't the first time scientists have found photos from outside of Earth with an eerie resemblance to entities on this planet. Humans have a knack for recognizing images or patterns where they don't exist, a phenomenon known as pareidolia.

In 1997, scientists discovered a large rock on Mars they named "Pooh Bear." And in 1976, NASA's Viking 1 spacecraft spotted a mesa that resembled a human face, nearly two miles from end to end, on a region of Mars called Cydonia.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Giulia Heyward
Giulia Heyward is a weekend reporter for Digital News, based out of New York. She previously covered education and other national news as a reporting fellow at The New York Times and as the national education reporter at Capital B News. She interned for POLITICO, where she covered criminal justice reform in Florida, and CNN, as a writer for the trends & culture team. Her work has also been published in The Atlantic, HuffPost and The New Republic.