What on Earth is that thing on Mars?

A 'shiny protuberance', spotted on Mars by Curiosity Rover, has had the internet aflutter for days; theories range from erosion artifact to evidence of alien life. I asked my wife, Heather, and she figured it out right away.

That is clearly the car from The Dukes of Hazzard leaping over a ravine.

I consider this matter resolved.


  1.  If you pan and up and to the right you can clearly see Boss Hogg screeching to halt on the cliff’s edge.

    1. Plainly, one of the Dodge Chargers used in making the program must have accidentally reached escape velocity and crashed on Mars.  

        1. guys seriously.. this is ridiculous. It’s quite obviously an M-CAT Lithium Ion Flux Capacitor

          1. Nuh-uh! It’s an oscillator overthruster. The Ford F-350 got stuck driving through the mountain.

      1. maybe he lost the sonic hammer, and that’s why he picked up the sonic screwdriver in the first place?

  2. “Looks like the boys have flown the coop.”
    *cue freeze frame, and dramatic steel guitar followed by a commercial for a ronco food dehydrator.

  3. I see two sane options. A) Some natural metal eroded into visibility. B) A piece of one of the many objects we’ve fired at Mars. eg: Debris from one of those dead satellites.

    1. The chances of previous human debris being near the landing sight are close to zero.  They pick sites away from other sites on purpose, and a haphazard landing of random space junk in the same area is 1 in a zillion- kind of like in JJ Abrham’s Star Trek when Kirk just happens to tumble down the hill into Spock’s lap. I think you were on it with guess A.

      1. It’s not exactly random. We’ve fired around 50 things at mars already. And we’ve lost contact with plenty of objects we’ve put into orbit. Which by now can have crashed into the planet in an unknown location. Some of those objects attempted to land and hence contained extra portions that would end up landing in a different location. And during re-entry parts of an object can break off creating multiple pieces of debris that land in different locations.
        We’ve sent 4 rovers already. I wouldn’t say that the chances are 1 in a zillion. Frankly I’d say that it’s going to be inevitable.

        1. the odds of space junk just happening to run into mars is negligible.  Also – the surface area of Mars is more than 55 million square miles – there would be less than a one in a million chance of landing within a mile of one of those 50 things even if they were evenly distributed across the surface. 

        2. The chances are probably more like one in a trillion. I think you’re underestimating how small these things are, and how large Mars is. It’d be like trying to find a Volvo on a completely barren Earth. Hell, we can’t even find one in the place we parked it. 

  4. “Right. C’mere. You see this? This is why we’re here. Because this little gray rock sells for $20 million a kilo. That’s the only reason. This is what pays for the whole party, and it’s what pays for your science.”

  5. Best explanation I’ve seen yet is that it’s the result of a lightning strike on Mars.  Apparently the dust storms on Mars do create lightning, and with nothing very tall to act as a ground, the ground does.  Not dissimilar to what happens in the desert with molten sand into glass.

    1. Just don’t tell that to Richard Hoagland, he’s gonna have a field day with this on Coast To Coast.
      If he still appears on the show, that is, I haven’t tuned into Art Bell since the Clinton presidency.

      At first it was fun like scary or fantasy stories around a bonfire with a dash of science now and then, but I sensed the bullshit factor intensifying and found myself getting very angry while listening to this kind of sleazy one-two punch:
      1) “The coming global superstorm is upon us, now a word from our sponsors…”
      2) “Buy gold.  Buy gold now”.
      At twice the price for the gullible and scared, the way Hannity and Beck made millions.

      1. I don’t know about Richard Hoagland but Art Bell retired again a few years ago, although he does occasional guest hosting. George Noory, the current main C2C host, doesn’t strike me as sleazy. He seems to maintain a good balance: Giving people of questionable mental health a voice and sympathetic ear without exploiting or enabling their issues.

        “Stories around a bonfire with a dash of science” is the best description of the show I’ve read.

        1. Giving people of questionable mental health a voice and sympathetic ear without exploiting or enabling their issues.

          And that right there is why I occasionally listen to it.  Some of the guests make the GOP and tea party people look sane.

  6. And so began the miner 2049ers and the great Mars Silver Rush.

    All you needed was a robot mule, a stake, and the ability to spew space-prospector lingo, consarnit,  If you could do Walter Huston’s TREASURE OF THE SIERRE MADRE crazy dance in a spacesuit, you were in.

  7. And, with that, I really start to wonder if NASA deserves their funding. They’ve really gone all-in on these ‘OMGWEFOUNDSOMETHING’ press releases, which get a burst of attention but turn out to be nothing.

    For all the ‘humans are meant to explore’ stuff, the truth is they were founded as a military proxy, and lived on as a commercial necessity for communication. Now that google has the best imaging satellite and spaceX can bus pieces out to LEO–what’s the point? We live in a solar system of  rocks–NASA is further away from getting us to one than they’ve ever been–we know there’s water on mars (best proof from orbiters)–and it seems the only thing NASA is good for is looking for stuff which might hit us.

    Please, NASA, make real science interesting. If you have to resort to waving your hands and jumping up and down to get our attention, then maybe the science you’re doing really isn’t all that important. 

    1. The OMGNIFTY releases are amplified by the popular press and blogs like this one. If you’re interested in the actual science that’s coming from this mission, of which there is puh-lenty, you might want to look for it yourself instead of hoping for BoingBoing to deliver it to you.

      1. Citations please. Compared to the amount of raw data, there is currently very little science, published or otherwise. NASA folk are having a field day speculating and developing hypotheses (like this thread is), but they are now complete wimps about talking about what they think. We see the pictures, some of the data, wait months for peer review, and get the most conservative interpretation possible. Wake up NASA, you’re on fuckin Mars!

    2. Personally, I support looking for stuff which might hit us. I don’t necessarily like living here, but it’s the only place I’ve got.

  8. it looks like two things, actually, just appearing to be one long roddy thing because of the angle it was shot at.

    From the shadow, the  leftmost highlight might be part of the sticky uppy bit.

    The center and rightmost highlights of the “rod” are likely in the background, though, attached not to the sticky-uppy bit, but to the edge of the “ravine”.

    That’s my guess at how to view the pic. As to what the shiny bits are, though… wild guess based on the fact of what everything else in the area is made of: they’re made of rock. Shiny rock, white rock, could be either or both.

  9. Seriously, I rather hope we discover proof of extra-terrestrial intelligence in this manner as opposed to a fleet of UFOs appearing over the world’s capitols. It would be nice to have some time to be all *holy shit!* over it and spend at least a few decades thinking about it before we have to deal with the “real deal”. Let’s face it, once the inter-galactic overlords pay us a bonafide visit, be they naughty or nice, it’s sorta gonna be game over.

  10. Where’s the NCIS or (insert your detective show of choice here) super zoom that can take a shitty picture and turn it into an ultra high res macro shot?  Seriously NASA what have you been spending all that money on…

    1.  I know, right? You’d think they’d put better cameras on there, it’s hardly fuckin rocket-science.

  11. It’s a tiny (but incredibly powerful) ray gun pointed directly at Earth: “Roll one inch closer and your home planet gets it.”

  12. It really would be awesomely OCP if it did turn out to be a piece of a buried artifact of some kind.

  13. What on Earth is that thing on Mars?

    Lightning hit something on the ground and super-heated it into metal.  The ground eroded around it and there we are.  Or it may be from a meteorite that is now partially exposed from erosion.

  14. It’s the tip of the Statue of Liberty’s torch.



    Turns out, Mars was Earth all along after a major disaster that sent it back in time.

    I know, I was pretty surprised too.

    1.  You goof! That’s a petrified prehistoric bikini …Don’t you know anything? ..Liked your answer.

  15. Seriously, are they going to wander over and take a closer look? Seems a no-brainer. Finding that it’s something natural but neat would help people to learn not to jump to conclusions. Finding that it’s a doorway to the underground world where Barsoomians fled the drying planet would be more than a little awesome as well.

  16. It seems most people’s first instinct is to crack some joke or to ridicule anyone who might suggest the object is interesting. I think the education industry (especially here in America) has done an excellent job of teaching us not to be curious .. It is almost religious dogma that one must never speculate – this more than anything probably explains the popularity of Twilight ..

  17. It doesn’t look like the “chicken head” linked to above. This is shiny, those are not.

    Has anyone here ever gone on a stroll throughout he desert and seen a piece of naturally placed metal sticking out of eroding sandstone? I haven’t. It looks unusual to me.

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