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Thread: The Martian Horse... Pareidolia

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    Image analysis expert Marvin's Avatar
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    The Martian Horse... Pareidolia

    The Martian Horse

    Opportunity Sol day 2171 (March 3, 2010) near Concepcion Crater using the Panoramic camera

    “sols 2166-2171, February 26 - March 03, 2010: Driving Around Material Ejected From Young Crater
    Opportunity is continuing the circumnavigation of "Concepción" crater. During this period Opportunity traversed around a ray of ejecta that is comprised of rock debris from the impact that formed the crater.

    In Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter images these rocks and their shadows appear as dark streaks extending to the south and southwest from Concepción crater. Data collected on Sols 2165 (Feb. 25, 2010) and 2166 (Feb. 26, 2010), indicated potential targets for direct measurements with the Instrument Deployment Device (IDD). A 22-meter (72-foot) drive along the ejecta ray was performed on Sol 2167 (Feb. 27, 2010). However, because of the assessed mobility risks associated with this part of the jumbled rock field, no in-situ targets were approached. Instead the rover continued the circumnavigation campaign with an 18-meter (59-foot) drive around the ejecta ray on Sol 2171 (March 3, 2010).

    As of Sol 2171 (March 3, 2010), the solar array energy production was 278 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (tau) of 0.396 and a dust factor of 0.481. Total odometry is 19,399.57 meters (12 miles). “

    Source: Driving Around Material Ejected From Young Crater

    The Photo:

    The source:

    The location of the horse:

    Close up:

    Many who look at rock formation may see different thing. It is believed the human brain is “hardwired” to identify possible predators, foes, friends or food as quickly as possible as survival mechanism… therefore our brain tries to “fill in the blank” with something which is identifiable. That process is referred to as Pareidolia. Here is a good article describing Pareidolia (supplied by Swamprat… thank you for the link):

    Horse outline:

    I think it is generally agreed the above outline is the horse most people are seeing in this image. The issue is that it is not a single object or “statue” but is made from a number of objects (rocks) and due to the ground shadows and sun location, prove this is not a single object but consist of multiple objects. Notice the bottom part of the horse is in shadow and the upper part is illuminated. That is due to the upper part is facing the sunlight (which is overhead and slight in front of the camera) and the parts in shadow are facing the camera. You may need to refer to the original photo to get a feeling of the sun’s location.

    Separating the rocks:

    There are at least 5 separate objects which make up the outlined horse, plus some “flat” ground and soil (under the horse’s neck). It is difficult to measure individual rocks with precision since the photo is saved at Q=075 and is compressed, causing compression artifacts (blocks).

    Secondly, if you were to move the camera to a different location and take a photo of the horse, it becomes doubtful that a horse would even be seen, since the individual rocks will no longer lineup to give the appearance of a horse.

    Last edited by Marvin; 11-30-2015 at 05:45 PM. Reason: fix link

    Mmm, yes, very curious, very interesting...

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