A picture of the Martian surface that features a peculiar-looking object somewhat resembling a femur bone has "resurfaced in tabloids" despite being debunked by NASA years ago, Science Alert reports.
The original photo was taken by the Curiosity Rover's MastCam back in 2014, and the media outlet points out that it quickly spread among conspiracy theorists who apparently sought to use it as proof that "Mars once harboured life", with NASA eventually stepping in to clarify the issue.
"Seen by Mars rover Curiosity using its MastCam, this Mars rock may look like a femur thigh bone. Mission science team members think its shape is likely sculpted by erosion, either wind or water", the space agency explained in a blog post, arguing that since Mars "likely never had enough oxygen in its atmosphere and elsewhere" to support organisms more complex than microbes, the presence of "large fossils" on the planet's surface seems rather unlikely.
The photo in question was also recently tweeted by astrophysicist Antonio Paris, sparking a discussion in the comments about possible origins of the object depicted in it.
Nah, its the handle of that broken jar.— Robert Payne (@paynenotes1) June 14, 2020
Looks like a saprolite or calcrete soil , with hexagonal dessication cracks, very similar to what you can see in the Atacama Desert, Northern Chile Precordillera (19 degrees 30 min). pic.twitter.com/8smo4Wc7nS— Marcelo Farias (@marcelofariast) June 14, 2020
They've got storms on Mars so probably the wind's been throwing rocks around and smashing them. I'd love for them to be bones though. It would brighten my day!— Margo&Hamish (@Hamishmcxxx) June 14, 2020
Hours later, Paris joked about the reaction to his "bone on Mars" tweet, advising people to "stop drinking whiskey so early in the morning".