Like most spectacular findings that emerge on the Internet, a photo that appears to reveal a rat or squirrel on Mars has resurfaced and is being reported this week by many mainstream media outlets. Reports are based on undated findings from the site UFO Sightings Daily which showed "evidence" that rodents could possibly exist on Mars.
A little history of the rat from the Examiner.com shows that the original photo was taken on Sept. 28, 2012 by NASA's rover Curiosity and then reported on UFO Sightings Daily on Dec. 4, 2012 (above). An analysis of the photo published on May 10 on the Mars Anomaly Research site apparently rekindled the current craze. It was also reported in January by Strangetek.com and other sites that NASA had brought the rat to Mars for testing.
A look at Google today showed hundreds of sites, led by Fox News, reporting the discovery.
But wait. Just because there's no breathable air for Earth mammals, no food, and almost no water on the Red Planet doesn't mean we can't have fun with it.
Here's the image that supposedly shows the rodent up close.
Here we show the original image grabbed from NASA.gov — showing that it must be real.
Zoom in a bit and you can get the first glimpse of the rat/squirrel on the left.
Here's a comparison of the acutal photo that's being spread across the Internet (above) and a 7X enlargement (below) that I took from an older version of Photoshop. Looks real, anyway.
My favorite "proof" of life on Mars came from a 2008 blowup section of an image taken by the Mars rover Spirit which shows what looks like a person perched atop a rock. The image, shown here, was grabbed from panoramic images taken November 6-9, 2007.
A NASA spokesman said that the "man" on Mars is actually "a 2-inch sedimentary rock that has been eroded by the wind."
And of course we can't forget the original photographic "proof of life on Mars." An image taken in 1976 by the Viking 1 spacecraft showed a formation in the Cydonia region of Mars that resembles a human face. NASA scientists quickly interpreted the image as having been caused by the angle of the sun and the resulting shadows. But that didn't prevent claims that the "Face on Mars" proved there was intelligent life on the Red Planet.
The European Space Agency's Mars Express, equipped with its High Resolution Stereo Camera, revisited Mars' most famous feature in 2006. It showed a normal rock formation that resembled a face when an image of it was taken well overhead with the proper shadows.