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spaceSpace and Physics

Perseverance Spies The First “Cat” On Mars

Yeah, it's a rock, but it *looks* like a cat about to pounce.

author

Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

clockSep 14 2022, 10:24 UTC
A white rock on Mars that looks a bit like a cat from behind that is about to pounce forward. It has ears and everything
A rock that is giving off "cat booty shake before pouncing" vibes, taken on September 8. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Pareidolia is the peculiar human behavior of seeing meaningful images in random patterns. We see faces in plug sockets, queens in clouds, and the entire world in funny-shaped rocks. Martian rocks are no exception, with everything from the famous “face” that turned out to be a hill to secret doors spotted on the Red Planet. And now, the first cat on Mars. 

NASA’s Perseverance is currently studying an ancient river delta that billions of years ago brought liquid water into the Jezero crater. The rover is analyzing rocks as well as collecting samples that will be taken back to Earth next decade.

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The latest publicly voted image of the week from the rover once again plays into our pareidolia. It has been described online as a cat loaf, the position assumed by felines when they tuck their legs and tail under themselves to look like an innocent bread product. The left side of the rock is the head in this interpretation. 

A completely unscientific internal poll at IFLScience instead sees the reverse, the left side of the rock is the backside of the cat in a pouncing (or biiiiiig stretch) position doing the characteristic cat butt jiggle. Another valuable suggestion was it looks like Wurmple, the caterpillar-like pokemon introduce in Generation III. What do you see in this rock?


spaceSpace and Physics
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  • Mars,

  • pareidolia,

  • Perseverance