PASADENA, Calif. — There’s something fishy happening on Mars — sort of. NASA researchers have spotted a giant “crab claw” and “shark fin” in the ancient sands of the Red Planet.
Well, that’s at least how astronomers are describing the rocks recently observed by NASA’s Perseverance rover, which snapped pictures of the geological formations over the last few months. The NASA team at the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is comparing them to a shark mouth, a giant egg, and one that apparently looks like a “male appendage.”
The fascinating finds were picked out by eagle-eyed science fans who get to choose an Image of the Week for the space agency.
“This rocky duo was spotted hanging out together in a wind-swept area. I spy a…crab claw? Shark fin?” NASA officials say in a statement, according to SWNS.
“Martian crabs were huge and had one giant claw, and one hammer claw, the first is for fighting, the other for breaking open rocks for hidden water,” one person joked while commenting on the otherworldly images.
“What’s the scale here? I need to understand how Martian crabs compare in size to Earth crabs,” another fan added.
The often amusing observations of Mars rocks are an example of pareidolia, where we see familiar objects or patterns in otherwise random or unrelated objects. A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, paving the way for human visits to the planet.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed for the agency by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.
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South West News Service writer Dean Murray contributed to this report.