Does this NASA photo show a ‘portal’ and ‘wall’ on Mars?


A photograph taken by NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover on May 7, 2022 showed a “portal and nearby wall that appears artificial.”

The context

While the image in question was an authentic photo taken by a camera aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover on May 7, 2022, the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told Snopes that, what some social media users interpreted as a “portal and a wall”, was actually a rocky crevice on the red planet.

Fact check

A popular May 2022 post on Reddit that claimed NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover captured a photograph of a purported “portal” and “nearby wall that appears artificial” on the Red Planet was as incredulous as it seemed there.

Indeed, while something depicted in the grainy black-and-white version of the photograph taken by a camera on board the rover could be interpreted as resembling the shape of a door, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of the The agency told Snopes he was a “very, very, very close-up of a tiny crevasse in a rock.”

“The team’s scientists highlighted how [the crevice] is: approximately 30 centimeters wide and 45 centimeters wide (11 by 17 inches),” a JPL spokesperson said by email. “They said there were line fractures all along this outcrop, and this is a place where several line fractures intersect.”

The photograph was taken by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) equipped on board Curiosity, a system that uses fixed focal length multispectral imagers to capture “true color” images of the Red Planet and beyond. The “gateway” image was captured on May 7, 2022, which is also Sol 3466 – the 3,466th solar day on Mars, or a Mars day.

NASA’s media relations team also referred us to a publicly available digital photo mosaic that the rover also captured. Neville Thompson, who is not affiliated with NASA, created the piece, which showed the content of the image in question within the larger marscape.

neville thompson

The small “gate” (crevasse) can be seen roughly in the center, a bit up and a bit to the left.

” You see ? You can zoom with the +/- on the right side of the screen. It’s very small and looks like… a crevice in the rock,” the spokesperson wrote.

While we can’t say for sure if the Martians actually used tiny doorways, NASA was sure the “doorway” in this case was just a small rocky crevice. So while the Reddit post showed an authentic photo captured by NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover, the photo showed no gates or man-made walls. As such, we have assessed this claim as “false”.

Want more fact checks on weird and goofy Mars rumors? Check out these:


Sources

Bell III, James F., et al. “Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover Mastcam Instruments: Calibration, Validation, and Data Archiving Upstream and In-Flight.” Earth and Space Sciences, vol. 4, no. 7, 2017, p. 396452.pubs.er.usgs.gov, https://doi.org/10.1002/2016EA000219.

“Does this photo show a hole drilled on Mars? Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/photo-hole-drilled-on-mars/. Accessed May 11, 2022.

king90210. “NEW: 2022-05-07 A formation on Mars that appears to be a portal and a nearby wall that appears artificial. Image credits: NASA / JPL-Caltech. Mars Rover. R/Interestingasfuck, May 11, 2022, www.reddit. com/r/interestingasfuck/comments/umyqdy/new_20220507_a_formation_on_mars_which_appears_to/.

mars.nasa.gov. “Sol 3466: Mastcam (Mastcam).” NASA Mars Exploration, https://mars.nasa.gov/raw_images/1064629. Accessed May 11, 2022.

MSL 3466 MR. http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/229311/. Accessed May 11, 2022.


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