Hoaxes & Rumors

About that “Pyramid” on Mars. It’s a Rock.

About that “Pyramid” on Mars. It’s a Rock.

A “pyramid-shaped rock” snapped in 2015 by a Mars rover is the subject of debate, with some claiming it is proof of an ancient civilization on the Red Planet.

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Mars Pyramid

The image above was taken on May 7, 2015 by the Mars rover Curiosity. The image is labeled “Mastcam: Right 2015-05-07 23:22:33 UTC” and appears to show a steep, rocky incline. Toward the top of the photo is what appears to be a pyramid-like structure peeking out of the hillside. The images taken immediately before and after do not show the rock structure.

The image we posted above is a cropped and rotated version of the full image taken in May 2015 by the Curiosity rover, as shown below.

A YouTube video which has amassed over 200,000 views in its first three days refers to it as an “artifact” with a “near perfect pyramid design.” The video theorizes that it is a marker or tip of a larger object buried under the surface and is “the result of intelligent design and certainly not a trick of light and shadow.”

The image – as it is displayed in the YouTube video – has been rotated to look as though it sits flat with its tip pointing perfectly toward the sky. The raw image, however, shows the rock pointing at about a 60-degree angle, which would mean an object below the surface would have actually been constructed on the side of a hill.

Further, the belief that a triangular rock formation on Mars isn’t natural can be debunked in the same NASA image. A cursory search for triangle shapes caused by light, shadow, and shape reveals several examples in the same photo. Any one of those, at the right angle, could potentially resemble a man-made object. We highlighted 9 of them below (click to enlarge).



The most likely (and widely accepted) explanation for strange images on Mars is that of pareidolia, the interpretation of something vague as being significant. It’s akin to seeing images in cloud formations or the “man on the moon.”

Another NASA Pyramid

This isn’t the first time a pyramid has allegedly been spotted in NASA images. Some writers have suggested that Apollo 17 astronauts snapped a grainy photo of a pyramid on the surface of the moon in 1972. That photo ended up being a shot of the Lunar Roving Vehicle floor as the film was being loaded.

Other Mars Anomalies

YouTubers on the hunt for familiar-looking objects claimed to have spotted a rat and a lizard on the surface of Mars a couple of years ago.

Natural Pyramid Rocks

Although ardent conspiracy theorists will not be convinced by the argument that this is likely a combination of pareidolia with a single low-resolution image, it should be pointed out that naturally-formed triangular “pyramid-shaped” rocks do occur, as shown above, and in examples found on Earth. Such examples include the Triangle Rocks at Garrapata Beach in California, or even this “pyramid-shaped rock” snapped near the Continental Divide.


Those who claim this rock formation is a “pyramid” on the moon make the assertion based on a single low-resolution, rotated image. Naturally-occurring triangular shaped rocks do occur, on Mars and on Earth, as evidenced by many triangular shapes found within the same Curiosity photo. The explanation of pareidolia is unlikely to satisfy believers, however, unless high-resolutions photos from multiple angles are produced.

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