Yogi, Paddington and Winnie the Pooh move. There’s a new bear in town. On Mars, anyway.
The glowing face of a cute-looking teddy bear seems to be carved into the surface of our nearest planet, waiting for a passing moon to discover it.
And that’s exactly what happened last month when the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter passed by, armed with the most powerful cameras ever set foot in the solar system.
Scientists operating the HiRISE (High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), which has been orbiting Mars since 2006, have processed the data back to Earth and published pictures of faces.
“There is a hill with a V-shaped collapse structure.” [the nose]two craters [the eyes]and a circular fracture pattern [the head]’said the University of Arizona scientist who operates the kit.
Each 2,000-meter (1.25-mile) wide facial feature has a possible explanation for how active the planet’s surface is.
“The circular fracture pattern is likely due to sediment settling on the buried impact crater,” the scientist said.
“Could the nose be a volcano or mud vent and the sediment be lava or mudflow?”
One of six instruments on board the Orbiter, HiRISE will take highly detailed pictures of Mars and help map the surface for potential future human or robotic missions.
Over the past decade, the team has successfully captured images of avalanches as they occur, discovering dark streams that may be some sort of liquid.
They also spotted dust devils swirling around the surface of Mars, and features that some believe closely resemble Star Trek’s Starfleet logo.
But one thing they haven’t discovered is the little green men that were once commonly believed to inhabit Earth.