Hypnotic Mars crater looks like a reptile's eyeball

NASA's Mars orbiter caught sight of an eye-popping formation.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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This MRO HiRise image isn't in natural color, but it helps the landscape features on Mars really pop out.

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Here's looking at you. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured a view of a crater on Mars that looks like it's staring back. 

The HiRise camera team at the University of Arizona in Tucson posted two different views of the crater to Twitter on Friday. One shows the crater in context in black and white, while the other is an enhanced color close-up that resembles a reptile's eye against a scaly landscape.

The HiRise team tweeted, "looking at this crater is just hypnotic." Even in black and white, the crater really stands out from the surrounding area.

Don't worry though. This isn't evidence of lizard people on Mars. The Red Planet has many formations that can trigger pareidolia, a phenomenon that causes humans to see recognizable patterns and shapes in unrelated objects, but it's all for fun.

The MRO has been observing Mars' North Polar region to see if the layered deposits in the area are gaining or losing mass, and it happened to spot the crater in the process. 

NASA says the polar layers are composed of dusty water ice that is nearly 2 miles (3 kilometers) thick. Erosion and other natural processes can create exotic-looking formations and expose the sites of old craters.

The crater in the new HiRise image is reminiscent of a circular South Pole formation NASA puzzled over in 2017, wondering if it might be an impact crater or a collapse pit caused by sinking ground.

The MRO reached Mars in 2006 and has been studying the surface to learn more about the history of water on the planet.

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