Astronomers were just looking through photographs received from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Monday, when they noticed something slightly out of place.
There, on the surface of the enigmatic Red Planet, in one of the few regions not obscured by a dust storm, was none other than the wide-eyed Beaker – the shy and ill-fated assistant of Dr Bunsen Honeydew from The Muppet Show.
Well, no, not actually. That would be absurd. But the resemblance is striking and you practically can’t unsee it once spotted.
The photograph was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), an ultra high-definition telescope on board the Mars Orbiter, and was posted to Twitter by a team of astronomers at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.
If you look closely at the image, you can see Beaker’s massive eyes, his downturned mouth and his bulbous nose in the dips and ridges of frozen carbon dioxide.
And today’s HiPOD offers up a nice dose of pareidolia as well!#CannotUnsee pic.twitter.com/ZWtdfCCH3d
— HiRISE (NASA) (@HiRISE) August 13, 2018
As far as we know, there is no life on Mars. But that hasn’t stopped us from trying to catch a glimpse of something – anything! – on our neighbouring planet.
This common phenomenon is called pareidolia, which is when an image or a sound tricks the mind into thinking it’s found something significant that isn’t actually there.
Mars just happens to be a hotbed for this sort of thing. From a lizard to Bigfoot to Ghandi to Jabba the Hutt to Pac-Man to the shadowy figure of a woman – our neighbouring planet is home to a bizarre group of illusive characters.
But of all the Muppets to have ended up on Mars, it seems fitting that it’s Beaker. Poor Beaker was one of the most unfortunate lab assistants, and no matter how much he wanted to contribute to the scientific method, he always ended up suffering some humorous fate.
When he wasn’t being blown up or electroshocked, he was busy being bludgeoned or cloned. Just watch this video as a cheerful reminder:
But no matter how hard things got for Beaker, he was always willing to help out. Maybe that’s why in 2004, Beaker and Dr Bunsen Honeydew were voted Britain’s favourite cinematic scientists, winning a third of all the votes.
Now, resting on the surface of Mars, Beaker is there to remind us that no matter how difficult things get, scientific discovery is worth the pursuit.