Speaking of dumb Mars claims…

By Phil Plait | January 21, 2008 3:00 pm

Welcome Farkers! Well, everyone but aerojockey.

Wow, some antiscience claims are so weird it’s a wonder anyone can take them seriously.

Take this blog post about the image here, for example. In just a few words, it manages to get nearly everything wrong. A lot of it is in Japanese, but some is in English:

A man is in the photograph which the Mars explorer Spirit (it stopped transmitting data in 2004) sent.

First, puhlllleeeeze. A man? It’s a tiny rock only a few inches high. It’s only a few feet from the rover! Here’s the image from NASA. As usual for antiscience nonsense, they point to a press release image with no indication of when it was taken, or what the original image is. There are thousands of Spirit images, and I have little desire to comb through them looking for this one (though it appears to be early in the mission; it’s still on the landing accouterments).

Second, Spirit stopped transmitting data in 2004? Well, kinda. It did stop, but then it started again. We’re still getting good stuff from both the Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars. The blog post seems to phrase it that way on purpose, to make it sound like Something Mysterious Happened.

Now, I don’t read Japanese, so this may be a misunderstanding on my part. Are they just pointing out something funny looking? Maybe. FWIW, the site appears to be about weird images and such. But I see so much of this, and there is no lower limit to the dumbosity of such claims, that it just makes sense to figure on the lowest common denominator.

Anyway, the image itself is, of course, yet another example of pareidolia, our ability to see patterns in random shapes. That does look like a guy hanging out on Mars, enjoying the 0.01 Earth atmospheric pressure, the 98% CO2 air, the subfreezing cold, and of course, just being four inches tall. Martians are pretty short, it seems. And patient, given its pose.

Tip o’ the tin foil beanie to BABloggee piotr slisz.


Comments (202)

Links to this Post

  1. n-rd » Blog Archive » Speaking of dumb Mars claims | January 21, 2008
  2. Calling Women “Sluts” And “Whores” Is Okay, As Long As It’s Done Professionally [we’re not making this up] | SKIRMISHER | January 21, 2008
  3. Universe Today » Astrosphere for January 22, 2008 | January 22, 2008
  4. Tem um pé grande em Marte? | PostMania - Tem sempre algo novo! | January 22, 2008
  5. Bigfoot on Mars? NASA captures alien figure at Hot News & Story | January 23, 2008
  6. Claim Blog » Blog Archive » Comment on Speaking of dumb Mars claims… by Michael | January 23, 2008
  7. Itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny Bigfoot discovered on Mars! « S c i e n c e M a d e S t u p i d | January 23, 2008
  8. CeticismoAberto notícias » arquivo » Pé-Grande em Marte | January 23, 2008
  9. Claim Blog » Blog Archive » Speaking of dumb Mars claims… | January 23, 2008
  10. Vulling gezocht - Sargasso | January 23, 2008
  11. When Martians Attack | January 24, 2008
  12. Xyre : Mermaids on Mars | January 24, 2008
  13. dxdt.ru: ????????????? ???? » ????????! ? ??????! | January 27, 2008
  14. DeToChO » Blog Archive » Humanoide en Marte Falso | January 29, 2008
  15. Panorámica del West Valley desde el rover Spirit en Marte : Observatorio - Imagen astronómica del día | January 29, 2008
  16. baltais runcis » Prasme saskat?t J?zu | January 31, 2008
  17. Tout Rencontre | April 8, 2008
  18. Pining for Mars | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | December 1, 2008
  19. Anomalous Martian anomalies | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | January 6, 2009
  20. Spirit sees phenomenal Martian vista | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | April 1, 2009
  21. Now, this is amazing! (bilingual post) - Guanatinghamshire | April 1, 2009
  22. Mystery Solved! - Marsquatch | May 17, 2012
  1. Lledowynn

    Wow, I wonder how much time those people spent to find that small part of the image. Just from a cursory scan of the original, I can’t find the section that they referenced. It just goes to show that they probably don’t have much of a life to find something like that.

  2. Doc

    It’s the misguided traveler who tempts the Tuskens’ hospitality.

  3. Doc

    It’s on the left edge of the image, about 2/3 of the way down.

  4. Egaeus

    I think it looks like Jesus. Quick! Put Mars on Ebay!

  5. Hoonser

    It’s probably the devil.. Trying to tempt the Mars rover to sin

  6. A “man”? No way that’s a man… It’s obviously Bigfoot!

  7. Bryan D.

    Theres a man on the wing of this plane!!!

    Kind of looks like a Gremlin out to destroy the Rover! 😀

  8. Bob KC

    It’s the “Thinking Martian”, of course.

  9. Marcel-Jan

    I believe it’s some kind of Martian Buddha actually. Probably a bit tired from fooling Spirit back in 2004, so it sat on a rock for a while. And I saw a Yoda on the right hand of the image, right of the black rock. Sheez, seems the Martians aren’t even trying anymore.

  10. AndrewR1

    I know it’s probably just a rock, but I must say it’s really hard to look at it and just see a rock. I would expect to see a coincidental silhouette of an ice cream cone or a hand or something more simple before seeing the complex one that of a man walking around.
    Also, if you go directly up that rock you see two groups what almost appears to be a few structures out in the distance, in an area that it is relatively clear of rocks. I’m just saying…

  11. AndrewR1

    I just mean that if I were driving down a highway and saw that I wouldn’t think it was just rocks

  12. Ian B Gibson

    A man? It’s a tiny rock only a few inches high.

    So? Ever heard of little green men?!

  13. Rick Johnson

    This is the latest panoramic release from Spirit. It was released Jan 3, 2008 long after it “stopped transmitting”. The release just says it was taken in late 2007 atop Home Plate.


  14. DaveR

    I’m with Joshua here. It is definitely Bigfoot. Now we know why we are having such a hard time finding him here on Earth. He went to Mars!

  15. NASA found people only a few inches tall in the Arizona desert, and immediately realised the potential for a Mars landing hoax. You have to hand it to them – you or I wouldn’t have reacted that way, but they had the imagination.

  16. That’s obviously Obi-Won Kenobi. He’s pointing at a group of Sand People. They frighten easily, you know, and will be back soon, in numbers greater than before.

  17. K

    I want to play!
    That, “guy,” is from the far left side of the pic. On the far right, I spy with my little eye Yoda and a duck!

  18. That looks like a Patterson film version of bigfoot. Someone had a more blatant Patterson bigfoot photoshopped on one of the Pathfinder images, though this image was intended to be humorous.

  19. Mike Torr

    My first thought was “Bigfoot” too…

    Zoom in on those mountains at the upper left. Nearly made me weep looking at them for some reason. I imagined walking across those plains (not that I could do that unprotected, of course!). I think it was just the realisation that this is a high-res photo of ANOTHER WORLD. Wow. I never lose my awe over this stuff.

  20. Brian

    Forget the little man! What about that GIANT LAKE OF WATER near the horizon on the right? I smell a coverup! Either that, or the whole Mars landing is a hoax and this is just a colorized picture of the Gobi desert. I’m easy, just so long as a conspiracy is involved at some point.

  21. JB of Brisbane

    Interesting that no-one has so far mentioned “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” – until now, that is!

  22. Michael Lonergan
  23. I was wondering about the rocks at the bottom left of the image – they appear to have a fluid, rippled texture, which seems reminiscent of sedimentation processes (occurring in the presence of water), or perhaps the result of some sort of volcanic activity in the guise of lave flows, (unlikely as there is supposedly no volcanic activity on Mars) – it just seems odd that such features should appear on the surface, implying a somewhat recent, or even ongoing spate of activity. Or am I just seeing normal rocks eroded by winds and other weathering?

  24. Kaf

    Hey, I can totally see my 9th grade history text binder buried in the sand just beyond Spirit. Wondered where I’d put that. At the time I blamed the dog for its disappearance. Felt a little guilty about…oh no, the dog!



  25. chris H

    in spite of all the funny posts by the readers i have only this to say

    Carl sure would have got a thrill from seeing those pics and knowing how resiliant those 2 little rover are. as the plaque on the Sagan memorial says. “For what ever reason I sure am glad you are here, I wish I was with you”.

  26. chris H

    ohh and your link for “from both the spirit and opprotunity rover on mars ” doesnt work

  27. aporeticus

    Google “translation”:

    Figure to surface taken by NASA?

    At the end of 2007 were taken by the Mars rover Spirit on the surface of Mars Spirit????????this is the disruption of communication in 2004 in MUMU them. NASA photo source server is definitely there, but this figure is too are human and have a cigarette or??it really, really surprised.

    A man is in the photograph which the Mars explorer Spirit (it stopped transmitting data in 2004) sent.

    NASA’s Mars surface figure appeared in photographs: OCCULuTION
    (Via. KARAPAIA)

    NASA has released images
    The picture which NASA exhibited

  28. aporeticus

    Google “translation”:

    Figure to surface taken by NASA?

    At the end of 2007 were taken by the Mars rover Spirit on the surface of Mars Spirit [untranslated characters] this is the disruption of communication in 2004 in MUMU them. NASA photo source server is definitely there, but this figure is too are human and have a cigarette or [untranslated characters] it really, really surprised.

    A man is in the photograph which the Mars explorer Spirit (it stopped transmitting data in 2004) sent.

    NASA’s Mars surface figure appeared in photographs: OCCULuTION
    (Via. KARAPAIA)

    NASA has released images
    The picture which NASA exhibited

  29. aporeticus

    Sorry for the repost. With the web server complaining, I didn’t think the first one went through. :)

  30. Nat

    My translation of the Japanese:

    Silhouette of a human in terrain photographed by NASA?

    In Martian terrain photographed by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit at the end of 2007, there’s something that seems to be a silhouette of a human… This is the same Spirit that stopped transmitting data in 2004… hmm, hmm! There’s no mistake; the source photograph can be found on the NASA servers. This silhouette is almost too human-like, like I’m seeing some guy stepping out for a smoke… seeing this really startled me.

    Silhouette appearing in a photo of Martian landscape taken by NASA: OCCULuTION
    (via karapaia)
    NASA’s officially released photograph

  31. Chip

    Kurt – you’re right. We’ve seen that guy before:

    Since the possible Martian fossil microbes are smaller than Earthly microbes, why not a “Tiny Big Foot”? 😀

  32. Never mind Yoda. Isn’t that Jabba that the little man is sitting on?…

  33. BaldApe

    Clearly it’s not a man. The thing that worries me is that Sand People rarely travel alone like that. Something’s up!

  34. The Stone

    This article is now in a Nexus between BA and FARK.


  35. Tometheus

    Tim Jones said: or perhaps the result of some sort of volcanic activity in the guise of lave flows, (unlikely as there is supposedly no volcanic activity on Mars)

    Not currently having volcanic activity doesn’t mean it didn’t have volcanic activity in the past. (See Olympus mons, the tallest known volcano in our solar system.) Since this photo is near the edge of the plateau called “Home Plate”, it’s probably had plenty of wind erosion to expose the old volcanic formations.

  36. So that’s why there have been so few pictures of bigfoot on Earth lately…

  37. tonyx#

    question! anyone knows what is that joystick like thingy attached to the rover?

    and yeah, i think is bigfoot too 😀 mmm… you think that furry old fella reconfigured the rover to play atari? LOL

  38. Jeffersonian

    I’m definitely in on doiling it* as the Patterson bigfoot.

    “enjoying…just being four inches tall”

    I laughed, I cried, I almost wet my pants. Thus proving the cats debacle.

    * I don’t know the current gerund tense of purposely, if not wantonly, attaching Pareidolia to an image and then sticking to it, but I’m claiming this is the word.

  39. 01101001

    anyone knows what is that joystick like thingy attached to the rover?

    That’s a gnomon. It’s like a gnome, but completely different. It’s part of the sundial and pancam calibration target.

    Cornell University: Fun Facts :: Sundial

  40. I think all they are trying to say is that it looks like the frame from Roger Patterson’s famous Bigfoot film. Or that they photochopped it to look like it.

    /I work for bigfoot so I find these comments very amusing….

  41. Bill Nettles

    He has a little friend that he’s searching for. Put him in the vertical center of your screen, then scroll horizontally to the right side of the picture…there he is. I hope they found each other.

  42. Johnny Bigtoe

    The Martian landscape – you’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

  43. hi anyone see that half burried upside down car 2/3 of the way back towards to rover?

  44. Michelle

    *Blinks* They took a big image, which is basically a ROCK FIELD, and freak out when a tiny rock LOOKS like a man? The odds of that happening were GIGANORMOUS!

    In fact, I see one that looks like a frog. I therefore announce that Mars is populated by gigantic 39 (Not 40. 39.) feet tall amphibians.

  45. bushi816
  46. P. Tane

    I’ve seen the Patterson film. I even studied it once! I can say unequivocably that the above picture is genuine.

    This proves once and for all the theory that bigfoot may be from outer space even!

  47. madcactus

    So they took the time to look at the really tiny details of this picture, and they missed something that you don’t have to zoom in to see? Look at the right hand side of the image, above Spirit and to the right of the cliff. And make sure you’re zoomed out. 8% scaled is what Firefox is telling me. See those tracks? Don’t they look like bird tracks. In the Martian sand of all places.

    Do they eat the tiny Martian bigfoots (or bigfeets, or bigfetti or whatever)?

    Don’t miss the Jesus toast above that sea of liquid water ……

  48. Jim

    Hang on! I have blown up each pixel into 9 x 9 pixels and in the process of optimizing the image enhancement. She appears to be holding a copy of a book. Seems to be titled ” Dark Mission: The Secret History of”. Can’t quite make it out.

  49. Isaac Marsinov

    Phil, as usual, you’re way too humble. Here’s the original shot, before your edits: http://img216.imagevenue.com/loc444/th_76676_spirit_marsman_orig_122_444lo.jpg

  50. OK Isaac, you win. I LOL’ed there.

  51. Martin Watts

    Obviously it isn’t a Martian.

    It’s a Martian’s garden gnome,

  52. csrster

    It’s the Little Mermaid! Finally proof that Mars did once have oceans.

  53. Troy

    It looks to me like the Martian equivalent to the Dutch Little Mermaid statue. Maybe it is the “Little Humanoid”.

    It is possible to use altavista.com to translate web pages, I did so and there’s not much more there except the first comment is, “If the person with how seeing, about several centimeters it probably is the dwarf, (q _ q;)
    This not to be wrong simply the Mars stone.” And the title is “In the earth’s surface where NASA photographed the shadow of a person?”

  54. J S Farren

    Hey, off to the right in front of the hill. Bluish patch. Spice deposit. And that’s obviously wormsign in the distance left-of-center.
    Now, where are those Fremen hiding…

    Seriously, these pictures really are so awesome, every time you look at them. Just look at those wind erosion patterns on the foreground rocks. Another planet, and it’s almost like you could reach out and touch it. Wow.

  55. The _Dutch_ Little Mermaid? So there’s two of them…

    And clearly the little red people aren’t actually red. Though still quite little.

  56. John Phillips, FCD

    Isaac I concur with Phil, you definitely win this one, LOL and LOL again :)

  57. KaiYves

    That really does look like Bigfoot. Well, at least he can’t get me if he’s on Mars. 😉

  58. John

    The NASA image is amazing… that’s Mars! I can’t understand why people feel the need to add little men to it.

  59. Wil

    Wow! It’s truly amazing! I also found a kitty cat in the picture, a seal pup, and a Mercury Villager parked off in the distance!

  60. Gary Ansorge

    Sue: That’s a real laugh inducer,,,

    GAry 7

  61. Nemo


    “I would expect to see a coincidental silhouette of an ice cream cone or a hand or something more simple before seeing the complex one that of a man walking around.”

    On the contrary — given a random image like this, you’re much more likely to perceive a figure or a face than anything else. It’s just the way your brain works, as a human: you’re hardwired to recognize (or imagine that you recognize) other humans.

    I don’t think a man walking is a particularly complex image, either… although in this case the “man” is “sitting”, so I’m not sure what you mean anyway. Unless you’re seeing someone different than I am?

  62. Mike

    That’s not a man, that’s an action figure!

    “Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”

    (The R2 figure obviously fell over.)

  63. Everyone’s comment is great & funny-ha-ha
    Thank you for linking to my blog :)


  64. alex

    its yuri gagarin mummy…

  65. alfaniner

    I admit that looking at the high-res version of the original picture fills me with an awe I haven’t had in quite some time.

  66. Jan-NL


    The submitter of the article is making it up and never claims any of it to be real.

    /keep up the good work though

  67. Here’s another somewhat suspicious photo from Mars. I suppose it could just be a random rock formation, but it does make one wonder….

  68. Nat

    Now even the Daily Mail’s picked it up:


    “Does this photograph really prove that we are not alone in the universe?” Sheesh. They even get the nationality of the website wrong by calling it “Chinese.” What a poorly-research load of hogwash.

  69. Ginger Yellow

    “What a poorly-research load of hogwash.”

    In the Daily Mail? I’m shocked.

  70. That blog post is an obvious joke mate.
    Why would u even wanna discuss it [; it’s a joke.
    The big foot smoking pot in the last one might indicate it 😀

  71. Abscam

    Uh, yes, we’re all pretty sure it’s probably a rock, but wouldn’t a proper debunking call for (ideally) additional photos–or at least your method of calculating the dimensions and distance of the thing? All I see is another assertion. Skepticism without rigor isn’t skepticism at all, it’s just laziness with a dash of conceit. Unlike so many Internet skeptics, you actually have a science background! Now please use it to explain instead of asserting.

  72. Wakka Wakka

    So you’re erring on the side of the deniers in this new life-on-Mars age? :-

  73. Troy

    Oh excuse me, DANISH little mermaid statue. I was thinking Hans Christian Anderson was a Netherlander.

  74. Illucian

    I don’t know, that blackout of communications that Spirit had does seem awfully suspicious…


  75. zeb

    So that’s where I left my little army man…

  76. BaldApe

    All jokes aside, we’re looking at another friggin’ planet! Not a telescope image, where the smallest thing you can see wouldn’t fit inside the Superdome, but like you’re just sitting there on the ground. Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

  77. Wibble


    Nowhere in the REAL picture that you link to does the “fake” pictures rock structure APPEAR.

    The structures are SIMILAR… BUT NOT THE SAME.. and you would have seen this if you had actually bothered to use your EYES!

    I’m not saying that I believe the ‘fake’ (although it doesn’t seem to have any of the telltale ‘shop signs…) but that PARTICULAR structure doesn’t appear!

    No wonder no-one actually fights to get the truth, because MORONS like you kneejerk to shout ‘WRONG’ without actually taking the time to CHECK YOUR ASSUMPTIONS!!!!!!

  78. Potter

    WIBBLE, actually… if you follow the left hand side of the image and move towards the bottom you do find the exact same structure (lighting, shape, EVERYTHING). But hey, don’t feel too bad about your inability to search around a photo for a very small feature (as he even pointed out), it happens when you are more interested in spouting off at Phil instead of actually objectively examining the situation.

  79. Arthur Maruyama

    For those having problems finding “bigfoot,” I have taken the original picture, shrunk it to a managable size, and overlaid a red block which is roughly the area shown in the “bigfoot” picture:

  80. dargndorp

    As the lovely lady to my left just remarked, it’s clearly not the Little Mermaid – it’s the Loreley, have a look at http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bild:Loreley_400x300.jpg

    Some rich japanese guy probably bought the original statue and had it moved to Mars.

  81. mike

    the picture is not taken from a few feet from the craft. It taken from way further away and these pictures are zoomed it

  82. punkdigerati

    It looks a ton like a low res still from planet of the apes to me.

  83. blueee

    Today I saw the little picture on a newspaper, ? knew it wasn’t a man but searched on google and reached to the original nasa photo from this blog. If this is a martian, so they are really tiny and we (humanity) don’t need to scare from them anymore, ’cause a little mars rover is like a battleship compared to it’s size :))

  84. Thomas Siefert

    It looks to me like the Martian equivalent to the Dutch Little Mermaid statue. Maybe it is the “Little Humanoid”.

    Oh excuse me, DANISH little mermaid statue. I was thinking Hans Christian Anderson was a Netherlander.

    Troy, you have just insulted 5 million Danes, please state your country so that we can start boycotting it :-)

  85. Raz

    I think its Mohammed’s spirit starting Islam spread on Mars.

    Someone check him for bombs!

  86. Because I am sad and have little to do this morning, I waded through the RAW Spirit images (http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/spirit_p1368.html). The panorama was comprises images taken on sols 1,366 through 1,369 (Nov. 6 through Nov. 9, 2007) according to http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/press/spirit/20080103a.html. However having looked through all the RAW images (and those for several days each side) I cannot find anything that looks remotely like the “feature”.

    The conspiracists will say that the images were removed, my interpretation is that the “feature” is an artifact introduced when the original square images were stretched electronically to produce the correct projection for the panorama.

  87. alph

    It took me a while to find it – the image is HUUUGE!
    There’s obviously a lot of people with FAR too much time on their hands…………………………….

  88. Luke S.

    The picture comes from the so-called West Valley panorama. It is available both in false color and in 3D from Nasa’s web site. When you look through the 3D-glasses you can see that the mystery figure is a tiny rock or sand outcrop on a downward slope from where the rover is. There are several more like it nearby. Alas, if only it had been a living creature … Now we will just have too keep on looking.

  89. We’ve had a look at it here – http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?showtopic=4927&hl=

    With some good work from a couple of people, we can say with a high degree of confidence that this ‘feature’ is 4.7 +/- 0.03 metres from the rover, and is approx 5.7cm tall.

    It was taken on sol 1367
    It is in every image from the top row

    Visible at the bottom of those images. The range and size were calculated by comparing the left and right eye images.

    It is also in these images

    Those are Navcam frames, so a lower resolution than the Pancam frames.

    It is also available here

    as a JPG

    and a TIF

    There are images of the same area taken from elsewhere – but only from some distance away, and to be honest I don’t think I’ve found exactly the same rock in the other images – That region is in these iamges from 5 days earlier.


    And a colour sequence imaged on Sol 1363
    Specifically http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/2/p/1363/2P247365400EFFAW71P2545L7M1.HTML

    I’ve added an image of the rover location on Sol 1364-7 as seen by the rover on Sol 1362-3 to the bottom of the thread listed at the top of this post.

    That’s just about every bit of information of that site. The nut-jobs will not be moved in their stance, I’m sure, but hopefully the rest of us can enjoy the imagery for what it is.

  90. Jim


    The Man on Mars pic made Anderson Cooper 360 last night. He showed the closeup, and a closeup of the closeup, but not the original shot – which just might have put it in perspective and ruined his “story.” He and the *entertainment* reporter then talked about how it looked like Sasquatch; she commented that her bf was a Sasquatch-believer. That led to a discussion of why they’re called Yeti in Tibet. (Neither one knew.)

    Great journalism being displayed there!

    It ended with Cooper saying he wouldn’t say any more, that he’d let us decide.

    Great journalism.

  91. Hendero

    OK, a friend works for NASA, at a base on the perimeter of Area 51. Here’s the “unofficial”, official version:

    It is Bigfoot. Or rather, it is “a” bigfoot, as in fact there are many. He was captured back in late 2002 in Yosemite. The FBI had been tracking DB Cooper when they picked up on some strange spoor. They changed tacks, found the bigfoot in a cave, tranquilized him and took him in for examination.

    They wrapped up their tests just before the Mars Exploration Mission launched in June 2003. They couldn’t release Bigfoot back into the wilderness for fear he’d continue to kill humans, but they didn’t want to harm such a strange and wonderful creature. The Feds have morals, you know. So they figured, “hey, we’re going to Mars anyway, let’s send him along for the ride”. They couldn’t figure out how to feed him (he’d have just eaten all the supplies in one go and his stomach would have exploded) during the trip, so they put him to sleep in one of those machines like Ripley out of Alien. The timer was set for the day of the landing. Poor fella was reportedly a little dozy when he first woke up, but they reckoned it was just like waking up after hibernating for the winter.

    Except this time, he was on Mars!! His furry skin protects him from the cold, and his body density is such that he won’t explode like what almost happened to Arnie in Total Recall. They figured his natural survival skills would come in handy on the Red Planet’s barren surface.

    This current mission was all about seeing how the big guy’s getting on, and from all accounts it’s been a total success. NASA is now developing a bigfoot space suit for its atronauts, which it now predicts will be building a Martian HQ by 2010. 2011 latest.

  92. Uh-oh. Fox News has picked up this “story” with a ridiculous description of the picture AND they’ve mentioned the Bad Astronomy Blog!

    Here’s their description: “Sasquatch-like image spotted in Mars picture: A detail from a panoramic NASA image on the edge of a Martian crater shows … well, something walking down a hill.”



  93. Did you notice that the Times used this story without quoting you?


    And while they try, rather unsuccessfully, to be ironic, they make some claims that are simply wrong. Neither are the NASA scientist puzzled by this feature. I mean come on! Where does this look even remotly like a person?

    Nor are the rovers looking for life on Mars. I is a geologist mission. But rock, life forms, where’s the difference?Eh?

    BTW the feature can be identified by clicking on the second picture of the Times story and compairing it with the picture of this press release.


    It’s a picture taken at the end of 2007 at the edge of “Home plateau”.

    BTW the blue region in the upper right corner of the picture with dunes in it, is much more fascinating to me than this stupd rock.

  94. alfaniner

    Yes, probably one reason why it’s so hard to load this page right now. BA’s been FOXed!!! It’s on their front page, in the picture box no less.

    I too was cringing at the accompanying text.

  95. Michael

    BA, Fox News is citing your blog on the subject to smack down this ridiculous claim.

    From Fox News:
    The skeptical Web site BadAstronomy.com, however, scoffed, “Puhlllleeeeze. A man? It’s a tiny rock only a few inches high. It’s only a few feet from the rover!”

    Other British papers saw the humo(u)r in the story, with the Sun theorizing that it was Detective Gene Hunt, the drunken, sexist policeman from the BBC time-traveling crime series “Life on Mars.”

    “It’s Usama bin Laden!” declared one Times of London commenter. “All this time we thought he was in Pakistan

  96. Interesting picture. As I scanned the entire panaramic picture, some of the rock formations remined me of pretrified logs (2), a frog, a sardine, and a snake. Richard C Hogeland must have put them up to it.

  97. T Knox

    If you look a little to the left of the full screen picture it looks like another guy peeking over the rock. Must be thousands of them out there, all getting in position to take the rover away to their little cave.
    Anyhow, I don’t think anything would have come of this photo if the arm swing looking part of the dude wasn’t there. Imagine that part not there and it just becomes a rock. Although I’m having a hard time with determining the distance, it doesn’t seem anymore than 15 feet away.
    Still a damn cool looking photo of the Mars landscape.

  98. James G

    Hey Guys, you need to shift your imagination into high gear. Why the fixation on BigFoot? That is obviously an ape from “Planet of the Apes”. And if you look behind him to the left, there’s another just sticking his head up from behind a rock. They have to be that small because of the lack of Oxygen on Mars. It’s probably a scout sent to check out the rover.
    And if you look at the original on the right edge in the middle, there is a 1950’s vintage beer can laying on its side.

  99. Karl

    This has to be nipped in the bud because it has the potential to become as big as the “face on Mars” hoax. Now it is an all the big news channels.

  100. Chupacabras

    The BBC is on the story too: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7205004.stm

    BA’s site mentioned! I wish they’d bother to link, though… And *not* to underplay the serious debunking.

  101. Chris Augustynek

    It must be pretty hungry…unless it likes to eat rock.

  102. Thats me

    I am going to sue all you guys… That is me. See closely. I have laptop in my hands(martians wont keep laptops on lap) and i just posted this comment from Mars. I have a serious identity crisis here.

    BTW i fell in love with SPRINT at first sight. That was one of ours honey moon pics…Later we broke up and now the sprint is blackmailing me with these photos. She exposed me. Our divorce case is still pending in SOLAR COURT.

  103. No, the image is real. I ought to know: I’m the Green Dude on Mars.

    We tried hiding from you, but your Rover proved too shifty.

    So…let’s chat.

    Link me to your leader.


  104. John Sawyer

    Phil says, in the article beginning this blog: “it appears to be early in the mission; it’s still on the landing accouterments.”

    Aren’t those the rover’s solar panels, not the ramps, etc? This image was taken at the end of 2007, long after the rover left its landing site.

    What I see is not so much a rock projection, as much as something on the ground beyond the edge of the rock.

  105. We looked at the raw NASA data too (University of Glasgow: http://userweb.elec.gla.ac.uk/j/jbarker/).

    We agree with Doug Ellison’s estimates.

    The sol 1367 (Spirit) panoramic camera raw images are available: at for example, http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/spirit_p1367.html.

    The first 4 are slightly different enough to show the “figure” is shadow on a rock that is nicely camouflaged against the background. The “arm” appears to be an accidental alignment of a more distant feature in the background with a feature in the foreground rock. Quite a nice exercise for image analysis. The context of the data is set by the stitched panoramic picture. The “figure” must be quite small-maybe a few inches or so. It could be calculated accurately from the camera data, especially the stereo data

    Keep on looking!

  106. There are a couple of views of this feature available, and so a cross-eyed stereo view and an anaglyph were made; these show that the feature is about as thick as a sheet of cardboard, and if it had been viewed from any other angle it wouldn’t have been recognizable as a martian garden gnome at all:


  107. Shiv


    I’ve been reading through the above site for a couple days now.. I’m finding the information and photos quite compelling!

    What are you’re thoughts about the idea that we are not alone in this universe, not to mention the fact that life just might exist on our neighboring planet Mars?

    I’ll continue to read the comments left on this site.

  108. Martin

    You might like to know that some of your comments are “quoted” on the BBC website


  109. Anthony

    Maybe im wierd, but there seems to me to be a bigger picture, does anyone else see big massive blueness in the top right by the hill? doesnt that class as water?

    and if thats big foot then hes been playing with that shrink gun on hunny i shrunk the kids

  110. Now the history is also in Periodista Digital, with this “Is there extra-terrestrial life in Mars?” (in spanish):


    I just can´t believe it!

  111. James

    Are you sure the whole thing wasn’t faked? This looks like the desert outside of Las Vegas. Are you sure the whole Mars landing wasn’t faked and they just went on a trip to Vegas with the money instead?

  112. JoJo

    It looks like William Shatner to me. What that man won’t do to get publicity.

  113. Thomas Siefert

    BA, as Martin already said, someone at BBC reads your blog.

  114. Franc

    Someone asked about the “joystick”
    It’s the Pancam calibration target

    More info here:


  115. Robert

    Obviously it’s Darth Maul. Jeepers, don’t you people know anything about science?

  116. Phil, this is now a lead story on CNN.com


  117. Peter

    It’s a Tusken Raider on a smoke break!

  118. Dang, Phil. I also found this on John C. Dvorak (formerly TechTV host)’s blog: dvorak.org/blog. Includes your quote.

    (I was wondering why I couldn’t get through here before work today.. with Faux News, BBC, etc….)


  119. jon

    why would life assume humanoid form on Mars? Of the all the possible (and better) shapes and forms life could take

  120. What I see is a cart at roughly 100 million kilometers away sending us mind boggling pictures looking like I’m standing in my own back yard. Now that’s the real alien thing here.

    Can you believe it? From behind my desk I have a crystal clear window looking out on Mars so real it’s like I can step out of the window right onto the Martian surface. The pictures these two critters are sending day in day out never cease to stun and amaze me – even after four years.

    Kudos to two computers which travel millions of miles through harsh space, land on a barren and cold desert and keep on working for years without a sysadmin constantly running around to fix things.

    You see that, computer producers and OS/software makers? It’s possible to build a computer that actually keeps working without hourly maintenance to prevent it from crumbling together with all your precious data going down the drain! :)

  121. John Sawyer

    It’s just an old tree root sticking out…

  122. Walt

    It’s clearly a Mama Martian on her way to pick up the child Martian that has fallen down a few feet (or is that inches) to the right.

  123. I agree that it’s probably not alive and that the possibility of a Bigfoot walking around on Mars eating red dirt isn’t likely, however the fact is this does look like a human form makes it worthy of investigating. (A statue perhaps?) What intrigues me is the arm. Intellectual curiosity should force us to take a serious look at it, even if in the end it turns out to be nothing.

  124. YourSpleen

    Phil is such a disinfo agent.


  125. Below is a wider view of the photo in true colors that may put things in better perspective. It includes a part of the rover’s solar panel. NASA says the hill that is dotted with rocks and is seen just above the center is about 30 meters away. Across the bottom third or quarter of the photo is the edge of the plateau on which to rover is sitting. Near the left end of the photo on the plateau edge is the object of interest. It appears to be a couple of meters away and a couple of centimeters in height.

    NASA should instruct the rover to give the poor little man a few drops of water. He’s probably dehydrated from wandering the planet for millions of years in search of a mate.


  126. Praveen Jaiman

    “Speaking of dumb Mars claims”.
    Interesting to watch it on the BBC News web site, but I can tell, it is only a rock. This wonderful shape is due to the erosion. One can see lot of visible rock erosion surrounding it. Hence there is no need to read too much from it.
    But still important messages for all of us, even our beautiful earth can look like the Mars surface as what we see it today. It can happen any time, if we do not stop over exploiting environmental resources or a war is triggered.
    Who knows what exactly caused all water to evaporate on the Mars surface, was that artificially triggered event or a natural phenomena? Whatever we say today, is just based on the knowledge that we have acquire till date about the Mars and certainly it can change with time, as we gather more information.
    Praveen Jaiman

  127. Gary

    It looks like there are TWO humanoids to me.

    Look just below the figure that appears to be walking down the hill. It looks like there’s another person lying there. He/she/it looks bald. Hey, maybe the dude tripped, fell down the hill and the other figure is just coming down to help a brother out.

  128. Mars Women

    I do not believe that you should be making claims about things you do not know. Have you ever seen an alien, do you know how the live or survive? I think not. So in the the future if you are going to make fun of people don’t be doing the same things they are.

    Aliens Rule.

  129. roryneil

    I thinks it is ridiculous how some people need to mock others, by setting up straw dogs. No one thinks there is a man smoking a cigarette. The speculation would be that there is a figurine, not a person, and no one thinks that bigfoot, 34 foot frogs or the Illuminati are there.

  130. Maddy

    I think it looks Like Madeleine McCann

  131. Robert Cornell

    I’m currently trying to get this picture removed from the Wikipedia article “life on Mars” – a “scientific” article – anyone want to back me up?

  132. Sue Mitchell

    Wot? No Stargate either? :-(

  133. Road Runner

    OK….all the previous posts are all good. gnomes mermaids frogs and all. Still I have one question >>> WHERE’S WALDO?

  134. Clayton Summers

    You know, I’ve seen that guy somewhere before… Got it!

    Look in the lower right hand corner of the Carina Mosaic:


    At first I thought someone had teleported Ape Mountain to the Carina nebula, but obviously, it’s the Martian bigfoot peaking up out of the clouds.

  135. Efraim Kramer

    a man no way i think a long time ago about in 1795 anastranot died ther

  136. dvs

    Downloaded the nasa image, and enlarged it then pointed out details..seen here..


  137. Jerry Connelly

    Go to google images, type in bigfoot, peruse the pictures and SEE the eerie similarities between the man on mars and “bigfoot” what is going on here/ Conditioning of our minds to accept the unacceptable/ in the next few months we are going to see a lot of this and ufo sightings also. something is out there but not what you think

  138. andy

    nasa has already proven its own data is unreliable…..i.e the face on mars…they had to send a whole mission there to re-program the face out of existance…

  139. Jimmy

    This image definitely looks like a figure but i think its a rock and the arms and head are a shadow past the rock because they are different color just look again closely.

    something else funny looking just to the right looks like a human body dead.

  140. Tashi

    That is not Bigfoot! The Six Million Dollar Man already fought Bigfoot here on earth, who turned out to be a robot. So let’s just squash the Bigfoot rumors right now!

  141. rohit

    hey everybody, he is osama bin laden, he is there because US Army is not there, no alliance, no where. Oh my god Al-Qaida on Mars. Soon they will come with training camps.

  142. Matthew

    After seeing this picture, I’m not sure of what to think of existing life on Mars. Can someone please inform me to whether or not there are more photos like this?

  143. Matthew

    Speaking about rocks… I don’t believe that this is a rock. If one was to just type in ‘bigfoot on Mars’, and go to the picture below the first then you will see a more convincing image.

  144. Tom

    I’m totally with Jeroen on this. I can barely tear my eyes away from the full sized image this “little man” image has been cropped from-astonishing! It looks like the view I used to have from my side window out into the deserts of south-central New Mexico. Yeah, I’ve gotten a kick from all of your great and funny comments about Obi-Wan and Dune and all that, but jeez-a-reez! This is another PLANET! And it might end up being a home for a substantial fraction of humanity sometimes in the future.

    And the machine that actually brought us this image can’t be underestimated, either. An “expected” operating lifetime of three months and here it is 4 years later and both are still working. Can you operate even a Mac for 4 years without some d!#n thing f$#!&ng up? NOOOOO!

    We won’t even touch any Win OS with that kind of performance.

  145. Johann

    Mr. Plait:

    I have enjoyed your site in the past and, I’m generally in agreement with your position on many of the subjects you discuss. However, this object is not “a few inches” in size. It is at least 18 inches tall. Please be more careful with your perspective calculations. And since it is close to 2 feet in height, can you please provide an earth based example of a piece of rock that has been naturally eroded like this?

    There is a strong possibility that this is an object of artificial design and construction. As scientists, in this instance, we must let the public know that this is to be considered.



    Look on the nasa image 3/4 to the right .1 down. You can clearly see a lake compleate with waves and everything. OMG WTF water on mars. Mabye thats where the bigfoots swim. Why not just wait by the water in that same spot. or search the water for more bigfoots swiming?

  148. Richard H.

    In all seriousness, why do you say it’s only a few inches tall? It looks like it’s a good distance from the rover and could be about the size of a person to me. Also, the separation of the arm from the body is pretty clear on the left side… very eery.

  149. Johann

    Mr. Plait,

    Many in the European science community are considering that this is not a case of naturally eroded rock. We have to accept that there is a significant chance that this object is of “artificial” origin. And your conclusion that it is only 2 inches tall is utter rubbish. Why would a fellow scientist like yourself come to such a ridiculously erroneous estimate of its size?

  150. Drokk

    LOL he measured it on his monitor.

  151. Johann,

    For physics reasons, we concluded that the size of the object was roughly equivalent to the size of your…


    The Face on Mars and the Canals were all built by the Little Big Foots…err, Feet.

    You just can’t understand because Government Radio Waves control your minds!

    Don your Tin Foil Hats and reconsider the evidence!

  153. Tim

    “…What would happen to the state of mind of America’s press if Allah (God) orders the Blacks on Mars to show themselves? Yes, Blacks!”—from the book “Closing the Gap: Inner Views of the Heart, Mind, & Soul of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan”, pg. 233

  154. Of course you all have been to Mars

    The skepticism on this page is unbelievable.
    Yes, it is true that we have never encountered living beings that are not inhabitants of earth, but can one realize that we might not have all the answers? Can one realize ust how much we don’t know about the universe? How do you think human beings came to thrive on planet earth? Through evolution!! Why is it so unfathomable to think that other beings have evolved to fit radically different habitats? This is just another exhibit of the human- centric thinking that causes one to lose sight of the how much there is to learn by thinking out of our tiny planet called earth..

  155. [Of course you have all been to Mars] posts:

    [[Why is it so unfathomable to think that other beings have evolved to fit radically different habitats? ]]

    In order for life to evolve, you need some kind of complex chemical to pass along genetic information, and some kind of solvent for chemical reactions to take place in. The surface of Mars is saturated with hard UV light from the sun, so complex chemicals are very unlikely. And there is little or no liquid water.

    Mars may have had life early in its history, if the theories about a “warm, wet early Mars” are true. But if it did, it’s dead now. And it almost certainly was not around long enough for multicelled organisms of large size to appear, or any multicelled organisms at all.

  156. Maybe it was a statue or something built by an ancient civilization…Mars used to be Earth like (The volcanoes prove that), so…Maybe there is other life than just us.

  157. Terry

    Looks like a mermaid to me. By the way, for those of you who didn’t see it, in this same photo there is a Martian dinosaur fossil. Clear as day you can see it’s head and what is probably a spinal column. Kinda looks like a Brontosaurus to me. Check it out!

  158. Joshua

    Its obviously more then just inches/feet away from the rover… And is more likely around 4″ tall not 4′ tall… The formation itself look more like a guy sitting down one leg folded under up on the rock and his other leg hanging down with him pointing at something in the distance…

    Do some imple geometry and you can tell its larger then your trying to say it is…

    And anways… the expression is… “Little Green Men From Mars”

  159. Caleb Roy

    Are you guys stupid!? It’s Obviously a Sand person. I don’t see any Bantha down there. The Rover didn’t send that picture…R2-D2 Did!!! lol

  160. Hey !! Its Michael Jackson doing the moon walk, ON MARS!!

    Geeze come on, face on mars? Now its Bigfoot?

    What will it be next? Homer Simpson?

  161. Alex Farias

    Hey…. everyone knows… Martians are little and green…

    So it feet pretty well on description….. However, also we all know that they leave underground….. so what hell this one is doing outside????

    Maybe it was walking and it saw the rover it just freezed… (like a camuflaged animal).

    Off course is a martian… you just embarrasing your self trying to cover it up!

  162. trust me…….they are really true……..i have many such kinda experience……..never violate nature,its beyond supernatural power.

  163. emir

    i think that it is a big foot and we must go to mars and see if it still there or it is a rock or a man !!!!.we must find out what is it .
    what about the water on the rigth !!!!! is that water.?

  164. emir

    i think that is a big foot ..

  165. emir

    i think that is not a rock that is a man or a big foot

  166. was the picture repeatable, from a different position

  167. Ima Skepticoff

    It is more likely a deliberate hoax perpetrated by a bored NASA employee on one of his friends, never suspecting that the picture would be released as-is, with people thinking his dupe was the raw, unedited, real mccoy.

    NASA, of course, could never confirm that such things happen on their watch, or they’d look like fools and maybe lose some funding.

    The shape, colors, position, and even gay limp-wristed pose are exactly what I remember from the bigfoot hoax videos of my youth. The NASA employee obviously cut one out of a frame from that video and inserted it in a real frame from the rover. Don’t be surprised to find “jpg artifacts” that say “Photoshop Pro” or some other graphics package… at least for that one square from the big picture (which is really a collage of smaller ones “sewn” together with software.

    — just my $ 0.02 worth

  168. Zeca

    I search for the stereo pair of pictures of this “man on mars” and mount the crossed eye pair to see it more accurately.


    thanks all.

  169. jerm

    i think that most of you people dont know what your talking about and no it isnt a tiny rock. that image of the being is very far away its just that we have high definition cameras sent to mars so that lets you see something like that from a distance. you guys…

  170. dude

    maybe one of the mechanics slimed the lander or someone retrograded then coughed on it now theres radio active sperm babies walking around up there

  171. deanna blanco

    On the surface of Mars taken Mars exploration car spirit to the end of 2007, to be some shadow… this spirit, 2004 to communication suspension is worth,… むむ. Father is like dose or this figure is man so surely the NASA server source photos, but really surprise.

    Figure appeared in photos taken on the surface of Mars NASA: OCCULuTION
    (via. carapaia)
    Update: somehow Nice in the United States a site is “it a because it-be-” and home to I want, it becomes a Festival in “Bigfoot’s?! it why we on Earth and walked? now to Mars!” and a wonderful point aimed at also comment. W certainly looks
    Writing and the authority of the United Kingdom saw additional notes: the article further news organization, “Chinese” is found (now the description is erased it) but the Americans saw it is nice in the United States for a little while ago site to “is Japanese, BCE! was disappointed in the research capacity of your” “even? shock!” and, reported “Chinese” is a TV station in Japan and the United Kingdom sources seen written, but it is the famous search engine news as released it. Interesting

  172. deanna

    i know japanese sis made me learn it bleck finally came in handy.

  173. deanna

    heres the real translation
    On the surface of Mars taken Mars exploration car spirit to the end of 2007, to be some shadow… this spirit, 2004 to communication suspension is worth,…. Father is like dose or this figure is man so surely the NASA server source photos, but really surprise.

    Figure appeared in photos taken on the surface of Mars NASA: OCCULuTION
    (via. carapaia)
    Image published by NASA

    Update: somehow Nice in the United States a site is “it a because it-be-” and home to I want, it becomes a Festival in “Bigfoot’s?! it why we on Earth and walked? now to Mars!” and a wonderful point aimed at also comment. W certainly looks
    Writing and the authority of the United Kingdom saw additional notes: the article further news organization, “Chinese” is found (now the description is erased it) but the Americans saw it is nice in the United States for a little while ago site to “is Japanese, BCE! was disappointed in the research capacity of your” “even? shock!” and, reported “Chinese” is a TV station in Japan and the United Kingdom sources seen written, but it is the famous search engine news as released it. Interesting.


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