I’m a big fan of pareidolia, the human tendency to spot familiar objects in random shapes. Mars is a wonderland for pareidolia, giving us gifts from a pebble that resembles a robot leg to alien-looking faces spotted in rock formations. Let’s add a portrait of actor Ed Asner to that list.
The HiRise camera team for NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is based at the University of Arizona. The HiRise Twitter account offers a delightful feed of red planet images, including a tweet this week showing a well-preserved impact crater.
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You’ll need to enlarge the image to get the full effect. The unusual look is because it’s an anaglyph, a stereo observation that helps to highlight the topography in 3D relief.
“Is it the pareidolia, or does anyone else see a grinning Ed Asner here?” the HiRise team wrote.
First, I said, “What? I don’t see it.” Then I looked more closely. Then I laughed for five minutes straight, enough so that my stomach muscles hurt. That either says something about Ed Asner as a martian, or something about how desperately I’ve needed a good laugh lately.
Asner is a seven-time Emmy award winner known for his work on the The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s. He has a lengthy filmography as both an actor and a voice actor.
Need some help? Here’s my annotated guide to spotting Ed Asner in an impact crater.