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Rodents on Mars: Did Curiosity kill the rat?

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marsrat1If looked at just the right way, a recent picture relayed from Curiosity, the NASA Rover craft currently snapping photos on Mars, appears to contain a rock that looks just like a rat. Taken on September, 28, 2012, at the “Rocknest” from Sol 52 location, recent analysis by Internet bloggers has created a loud squeak.

Are there martian rats? That look exactly like earth rats? That would be unlikely, as an earth rat (or any other mammal), might have problems adjusting to the environment on Mars. Because its atmosphere is so thin, the air pressure on Mars is only 0.6% of earth’s.

Almost all of the fluids in the rat’s body, except for its blood, would leak off into the Martian atmosphere, boiling as it goes. This would cause the rat to die almost immediately, and its shrunken, shriveled body would not look like the nice round rock we see in the picture imitating a live rat. The rat’s blood wouldn’t boil away until its heart stopped beating.

Speaking of the thin air, the lack of oxygen would suffocate the poor rodent, perhaps killing it faster than the lack of air pressure. If not, the normal temperatures of minus 200 degrees would freeze the little guy to death, if it wasn’t already dead. No, it doesn’t seem likely that a rat that evolved on the Red Planet could look much like an earth rat. So the rock must not be disguised as a rat from Mars. It must be from earth.

Currently vibrating across the web is the theory that NASA managed to keep a rat alive for two months in a space ship, then carefully landed it safely, just to toss it out of the airlock without a rat spacesuit. I don’t think NASA would do that. If ethics didn’t prevent them, common sense would.marsrat2

What we have here is not extra-terrestrial life, it’s pareidolia. This is a trait of human psychology, maybe a survival adaptation. It manifests as our seeing patterns, shapes, faces, and rats, where there are only rocks and shadows that kind of look like a rat. Or whatever our brain can make of it.

Here’s a video of the discovery of a rat on Mars:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btQx-NQBmXc

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