I love pareidolia! That’s the term for seeing patterns in random data. I talk about it quite a bit on my page describing a visitor in my bathroom shower, if you want more info about it.
Poking away at images of other planets will give you plenty of opportunities for pareidolia. After all, we have the Man in the Moon, the face on Mars (well, no we don’t), and on and on. Of course, there are even more whimsical examples as well.
What the picture above shows is the Happy Face crater on Mars. This feature was actually discovered a long time ago during the Viking missions in the 1970s. But the European Mars Express orbiter took some new shots of it, and they were just released. It’s not the best happy face I’ve ever seen (I’ve seen better ones in my own Hubble data (scroll to the bottom)), but hey, it’s not too bad.
Another orbiter, the Mars Global Surveyor, took an image of the crater a few years back. The crater, actually named Galle, was further around the limb of Mars, and so looks foreshortened, elliptical. Here is a side-by-side of the two:
Pretty cool. There are several articles about the new images on the web; the Space News Blog has a good one.
What else can I say, except…
Have a nice day.’