Every August, a recurring internet claim resurfaces, suggesting that Mars will appear as large as the full moon in the night sky—a phenomenon dubbed the “Mars Hoax.” This misconception, initiated in 2003 after a close approach of Mars to Earth, falsely asserts that the Red Planet will be visible to the naked eye, resembling a “double moon.” However, this is inaccurate, and observers won’t witness such an event.
The infamous “Face on Mars” is another persistent myth originating from a 1976 photo taken by NASA’s Viking 1 spacecraft, capturing a rocky formation in the Cydonia region. The play of light and shadows created an illusion of a face, sparking speculations about an ancient civilization. Even after subsequent high-resolution images dismissed the notion, the “face on Mars” idea lingered.
In 2007, NASA’s Spirit rover captured an image that led to the misconception of a “Woman on Mars.” Internet forums buzzed with hopes of confirming extraterrestrial life, but astronomers clarified that the human-like figure was a rock near the camera, not an actual humanoid. Additionally, the inhospitable conditions on Mars make human life implausible.
Conspiracy sites reported a sensational claim in 2013, asserting the discovery of an “Iguana on Mars” in a photo from the Curiosity rover. However, skeptics, including The Huffington Post, highlighted that the supposed iguana and other animal-like shapes were likely peculiarly shaped rocks rather than evidence of Martian fauna.
A similar incident occurred with the “Mars Rat” in 2012, where UFO enthusiasts claimed a rat-like object was visible in a panoramic photo taken by the Curiosity rover. Scientists dismissed this as a creative interpretation, emphasizing Mars’ hostile environment—extreme cold, radiation, and lack of a protective atmosphere.
In 2012, rumors circulated about the discovery of life-bearing organics on Mars, fueled by a vague statement from the Curiosity rover’s chief scientist. Despite initial speculation, subsequent analysis clarified that the detected organic compounds were not complex and left uncertainty about their origin—whether brought from Earth or indigenous to Mars. Notably, more complex forms of organics were eventually found in 2014, adding complexity to the understanding of Martian chemistry.