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A bear on Mars, NASA picture goes viral on the web

Two eyes, a nose and a gaping mouth: the picture of a bizarre geological formation taken on the surface of Mars by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is truly bear-like. The image was published by the University of Arizona (responsible for the HiRISE instrument that took the shot) and immediately conquered social media due to the pareidolia, the mental process that leads us to recognize familiar faces and shapes in landscapes or inanimate objects.

The giant bear snout is almost two kilometers in diameter and the image was taken last December 12 by the MRO probe flying about 250 kilometers above the Red Planet. The image aroused the curiosity of astronomers at the University of Arizona, who attempted to understand what could have drawn such a shape on the surface of the planet. The most likely hypothesis is that we are looking at a collapsed hill in the center of a large crater.

“There's a hill with a V-shaped collapse structure (the nose), two craters (the eyes), and a circular fracture pattern (the head)”, said HiRISE principal investigator Alfred McEwen. "The circular fracture pattern might be due to the settling of a deposit over a buried impact crater. Maybe the nose is a volcanic or mud vent and the deposit could be lava or mud flows? “

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