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Shadows on the Surface: Martians and Moon Men?

Aug 13, 2014 05:48 PM EDT

NASA recently released a photo from their High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that looks remarkably like a giant strolling across the surface of Mars, complete with massive staggered footprints and an upright silhouette.

The photo, taken on July 14, shows what appears to be a long trail in the center for the frame, to the far right, as well as a standing figure, which looks uncannily like a cloaked figure. However, when comparing the figure to the surrounding terrain, experts concluded that the shape and cause of this mysterious trail must be about 20 feet (6 meters) tall and at least 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) wide.

So are there giants strolling across Mars? How did any of our rovers and orbiters ever miss THAT?

Well, they didn't. It has long been thought that life on Mars is virtually impossible. Between an incredibly thin atmosphere and freezing temperatures, the Red Planet could kill a human being without a spacesuit in less than two minutes. And if they managed to get back inside a pressurized cabin within that time, they would be considerably worse for wear. The same goes for most conceivable life.

In a recent release, NASA concluded that the standing figure is actually the shadow of an oblong boulder that happened to land upright.

A quick analysis of the picture showed experts that the "foot print" trail leads down a slope in a pattern that suggests the boulder couldn't roll smoothly or straight due to its shape.

However, were these the trail of a living being, there would be signs of a smoother fall, fighting against the planet's gravity to maintain a measured gait.

Similar examples of people seeing aliens in the shadows happen all the time. Just last month, a video was uploaded by YouTube user Wowforrreel that has since received 2.5 million views. It shows a shadow on the Moon that paranormal investigator Tom Rose of the Examiner claims resembles a humanoid statue - namely the Colossus of Rhodes.

However, this is most likely just another example of pareidolia - a tendency among people to first conceive all obscured things as beings like themselves.

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