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A View from Jeff Foust

The Curious Case of the Martian Rabbit

One of the side effects of a mission like NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers, where much of the raw mission data is made available to the public shortly after being transmitted to Earth, is the number of, well, unusual interpretations of…

  • March 9, 2004

One of the side effects of a mission like NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers, where much of the raw mission data is made available to the public shortly after being transmitted to Earth, is the number of, well, unusual interpretations of the images made by people. According to this Knight Ridder article, people have claimed to find all sorts of artifacts in the images returned by Spirit and Opportunity: letters of the alphabet, dinosaur fossils, and stone tools. One of the most popular odd sightings is what appears to be the head of a rabbit, with ears that even appear to wriggle. JPL went so far as to publish an article to put to rest the bunny tale: the object, it turns out, is a small, lightweight piece of debris from the Opportunity lander, most likely insulation or material from the lander’s airbags. No doubt, though, there are some people who remain unconvinced, and are scouring the image archives looking for something else

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