'A bear on Mars?' NASA releases intriguing photo of the red planet

'A bear on Mars?' NASA releases intriguing photo of the red planet

Baloo, Winnie and the Care Bears now have company in the firmament of famous ursids: a strange geological formation resembling a baby bear’s head has been spotted on the surface of Mars by the US space agency NASA.

The intriguing photograph was taken last month by the agency’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite, which is orbiting the Red Planet with the HiRISE high-resolution onboard camera, the most powerful one ever sent by humans to the solar system.

“A bear on Mars?” asked the HiRISE project’s Twitter account, which posted the picture on Wednesday.

According to scientists at the University of Arizona, who are leading the project, the animal’s face is actually formed by “two craters”, which form the eyes, and a gutted “hill” that looks like a snout.

These elements are surrounded by a “circular fracture”, which delimits the contours of the head and could be formed by a deposit of lava or mud.

The whole geological formation gives the impression of seeing the smiling face of a teddy bear and stretches for two kilometres.

The HiRISE camera is one of six instruments on board the NASA satellite, which has been orbiting Mars since 2006.

It is ultra-precise and can take very detailed pictures to map the surface of the red planet for future missions by robots or humans.

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