Science

Published on June 2nd, 2013 | by James Ayre

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Rat On Mars — NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity Captures "Rat" In New Image

June 2nd, 2013 by

A rat on Mars? A picture taken by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, featuring what — according to some — is a “rat”, or possibly a lizard, is currently going viral.

Image Credit: Screen Capture

Image Credit: Screen Capture

A discriminating eye will no doubt note that the rat on Mars looks a great deal like on a rock on the earth. You can perhaps see how the chance combination of the rock’s shape, the shadows around it, and the placement, could possibly resemble the well-known shape of a rat. But the resemblance is clearly created from a combination of different features — the “tail” appears to be a shadow and a chance “line” in the sand, the space under the “neck” and between the “legs” are indentations, and the “body” wouldn’t even be in the right plane/angle as compared to the landscape around it — it’s a rock.


But for the sake of it, and for fun, let’s go over it all.

The theory appears to have originated with a man in Japan who apparently goes over the photos that NASA releases in great detail — looking for just such a finding. It’s worth noting that this rat is actually a different meme than the squirrel on Mars that was seen back in December. People like the idea of small, fuzzy, cuddly creatures on Mars I guess. Why not a giant polar bear or snake? Oh right, cause there aren’t many rocks that big shaped that way. And for that matter if it was a larger object than the photos wouldn’t be so helpfully fuzzy.

The earlier squirrel on Mars was seen in the “Rocknest” site on the planet — a relatively small distance from this rat — maybe they are buddies? Some web sites have theorized that perhaps the creatures aren’t image artifacts or tricks of the eye/mind, but perhaps intentionally put there by NASA, as an “Easter egg” of sorts I guess. Strange theory, but possible I guess. Don’t know why NASA would bother though.

As a note — it’s kind of interesting when you think about it — the Earth is currently facing the possible extinction of over one half of all multicellular life by the year 2100 — we are currently in the midst of the 6th Great Mass Extinction — and the idea of a single rat or squirrel being found on Mars is what’s getting people’s attention…

Here’s the image without zooming in on the “rat”.

Image Credit: NASA

Image Credit: NASA

With regards to the Mars rover Curiosity’s real findings — NASA recently announced that the rover uncovered good evidence of past water flows on the Red Planet, and that life may very well have existed then. In particular, a rock sample was analyzed and found to contain the elements “necessary” for supporting life as we know it.

“We have characterized a very ancient, but strangely new ‘gray Mars’ where conditions once were favorable for life,” stated John Grotzinger, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist at the California Institute of Technology. “Curiosity is on a mission of discovery and exploration, and as a team we feel there are many more exciting discoveries ahead of us in the months and years to come.”

In related news, recent research was released documenting the levels of radiation that the Curiosity rover experienced on its way to Mars — and the levels were significant, well above the limits that NASA currently has in place for its astronauts. In order to send humans to Mars without more radiation exposure than NASA protocols currently allow for, significant and improved spacecraft shielding will need to be developed.

Keep up to date with all the most interesting green news on the planet by subscribing to our (free) Planetsave newsletter.




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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • tim

    “Rodents from another planet”. Yep, I think that could fly as a movie title. Or a band. Or a cereal brand. Is there anything that would not work for?

  • tim

    “Rodents from another planet”. Yep, I think that could fly as a movie title. Or a band. Or a cereal brand. Is there anything that would not work for?

  • CynConcepts

    Looking at the scale of the original NASA image and all of the rock structures in foreground and background…if that is a ‘rat’, it is a big one! Thanks for sharing, a mutant monster-sized rat on Mars seems much more likely than an ordinary sized one depicted in the zoomed in image! Ha ha. ;)

  • CynConcepts

    Looking at the scale of the original NASA image and all of the rock structures in foreground and background…if that is a ‘rat’, it is a big one! Thanks for sharing, a mutant monster-sized rat on Mars seems much more likely than an ordinary sized one depicted in the zoomed in image! Ha ha. ;)

  • Adam Ruzic

    It can’t be real because the living conditions are unbearable
    1. The temperature changes DRASTICALLY (-60C to -125C roughly) in the day-night cycle so it would be near impossible to adapt to each temperature daily
    2. There might not even be water on Mars but if there is it’s obviously not in contact with this creature
    3.Same goes with food.

  • Adam Ruzic

    It can’t be real because the living conditions are unbearable
    1. The temperature changes DRASTICALLY (-60C to -125C roughly) in the day-night cycle so it would be near impossible to adapt to each temperature daily
    2. There might not even be water on Mars but if there is it’s obviously not in contact with this creature
    3.Same goes with food.

  • Joe

    think I smell a rat.

  • Joe

    think I smell a rat.

  • Joe

    I think we just like to talk about it, kinda fun. Deep inside we know.

  • Joe

    I think we just like to talk about it, kinda fun. Deep inside we know.

  • juju

    lol some one put that up there becuz that cant be up there by its self` ““wow

  • juju

    lol some one put that up there becuz that cant be up there by its self` ““wow

  • Art V.

    Ok, Now I see the “rat” in the non-zoomed in picture. It is in the center-bottom. Right in the middle of the tire track.

    We said we came in peace – but we have just turned the first evidence of extra terrestrial life into road kill.

  • Art V.

    Ok, Now I see the “rat” in the non-zoomed in picture. It is in the center-bottom. Right in the middle of the tire track.

    We said we came in peace – but we have just turned the first evidence of extra terrestrial life into road kill.

  • Art V.

    What they didn’t show was the picture from the same spot 5 min. later and there was no rat….

  • Art V.

    What they didn’t show was the picture from the same spot 5 min. later and there was no rat….

  • ocerg1111

    I saw a cloud today that looked like a camel. MAYBE THERE ARE SKY CAMELS OVER EARTH!!!

  • ocerg1111

    I saw a cloud today that looked like a camel. MAYBE THERE ARE SKY CAMELS OVER EARTH!!!

  • Floyd Winquist

    What freaks me out is that red dashed oval !!

  • Floyd Winquist

    What freaks me out is that red dashed oval !!

  • Lavacaman

    The martian rat looks like a nice photoshop job. The directions of the shadows are mismatched though.

  • Lavacaman

    The martian rat looks like a nice photoshop job. The directions of the shadows are mismatched though.

  • HardlyBreathing

    That ain’t no rat. I recognize it as the gerbil my mother sent to the little pet farm when I was five. She never told me exactly where that farm was located. Now I know.

  • HardlyBreathing

    That ain’t no rat. I recognize it as the gerbil my mother sent to the little pet farm when I was five. She never told me exactly where that farm was located. Now I know.

  • Millionsix

    This is a Nevada desert, not Mars.

  • Millionsix

    This is a Nevada desert, not Mars.

  • norm1234567

    Interesting camouflage, what predator is it hiding from?

  • norman madden

    Interesting camouflage, what predator is it hiding from?

  • Marc

    Sorry, I couldn’t get past all the spelling and grammatical errors.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      sucks being obsessed with minutiae, doesn’t it? miss out on so much. (btw, *constructive commentary* is appreciated here… in other words, help people improve, don’t just complain if you want to do something useful.) ;) :D

  • David B.

    Is there life on Mars?

  • Marc

    Sorry, I couldn’t get past all the spelling and grammatical errors.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      sucks being obsessed with minutiae, doesn’t it? miss out on so much. (btw, *constructive commentary* is appreciated here… in other words, help people improve, don’t just complain if you want to do something useful.) ;) :D

  • David B.

    Is there life on Mars?

  • dp

    Actually, there’s a whale in that picture. Did you see it? Really!

  • dp

    Actually, there’s a whale in that picture. Did you see it? Really!

  • Art V.

    ” new ‘gray Mars’ where conditions once were favorable for life”

    It was a petrified grey rat. Of course conditions were “favorable for life”

  • Art V.

    ” new ‘gray Mars’ where conditions once were favorable for life”

    It was a petrified grey rat. Of course conditions were “favorable for life”

  • smendler

    Silly folks – it would have to be a MARS-UPIAL

    • Ellie Fidler

      that was actually pretty funny. :)

    • james

      That was the stupidest AND funniest thing I’ve heard in quite some time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/smendler Skip Mendler

    Silly folks – it would have to be a MARS-UPIAL

    • Ellie Fidler

      that was actually pretty funny. :)

    • james

      That was the stupidest AND funniest thing I’ve heard in quite some time.

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