The ‘door’ Curiosity found on Mars is similar in size to a dog’s door, says NASA – Teach Me About Science

Gate-shaped fracture on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

At the beginning of May 2022, the Curiosity rover sent a photograph from the surface of Mars that has caught the attention of users. The image shows what appears to be an alien door. While the shape can be misleading to the human eye, it is a natural geological feature similar in size to a dog’s door.

NASA’s Curiosity rover used its Mast Camera, or Mastcam, to capture this mound of rock dubbed “East Cliffs” on May 7, 2022. According to NASA, the mound, on Mount Sharp, has a series of fractures naturally occurring open doors – including one approximately 12 inches tall and 16 inches wide, similar in size to a dog gate. These kinds of open fractures can be common on rocky planets like Earth and Mars.

The main panorama featured here was stitched together using 113 images from the Mastcam’s left lens. The image has been processed to approximate the color and brightness of the scene as it would be seen by the human eye under normal daytime conditions on Earth. This means that if an astronaut arrived at the place, he would see it exactly the same. In the image below the “door” has been circled in red so that it can be easily located. You can see a larger and colored version of the original image here.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

In the image below you can see the section of interest cropped, but with annotations indicating the approximate width, height, and depth of the open fracture.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

“Some of you have noticed this image I took on Mars. It may look like a small gate, but it’s actually a natural geological feature! It may just *look* like a door because your mind is trying to make sense of the unknown. (This is called “pareidolia”),” read the Curiosity Rover’s Twitter account.

“In a less literal sense, my science team is interested in these rocks as a ‘doorway’ to the ancient past. As I climb this mountain, I see higher levels of clay giving way to salty minerals called sulfates, clues to how water dried up on Mars billions of years ago.”

Many times space enthusiasts and image processors alter the original images sent by the robot from Mars. The resulting images or movies are fun to watch, but that doesn’t mean they’re scientifically accurate. Later, some of these works are shared and viralized on social networks, so things can get a bit confusing. It is worth mentioning that there are also images that are even incorrectly attributed to NASA.

How to know if it is official or original? Any official NASA news or image will be shared through an official agency communication channel. There is also a database that collects thousands of images and videos from the different missions. To search the primary image database, see: images.nasa.gov. To see the images of Mars, consult the gallery of raw (unprocessed) images, click on here.

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