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On July 25, 1976, NASA’s Viking-1 satellite captured the famous “Face on Mars” image. The image does not contain a face at all, of course! It is a satellite image of the geography of the Cydonia region of the Red Planet, including hills, valleys, and mesas.
 
The “Face on Mars” is a type of optical illusion called pareidolia. Pareidolia involves seeing or hearing something familiar in an unfamiliar setting. Seeing the shapes of animals in clouds is an example of pareidolia.
 
Another example of pareidolia is the rabbit many cultures see in the craters of the Moon. Yet another is the “Guardian of the Badlands,” a hilly area near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. Viewed with satellite imagery, the hills create what looks like the profile of a man in full Native American headdress—wearing earphones. 
Noun

visible mass of tiny water droplets or ice crystals in Earth's atmosphere.

Noun

bowl-shaped depression formed by a volcanic eruption or impact of a meteorite.

culture
Noun

learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

eliminate
Verb

to remove.

Noun

study of places and the relationships between people and their environments.

headdress
Noun

covering, often decorative or ceremonial, for the head.

Noun

land that rises above its surroundings and has a rounded summit, usually less than 300 meters (1,000 feet).

Mars
Noun

fourth planet from the sun, between Earth and Jupiter.

Noun

broad, flat-topped landform with steep sides.

NASA
Noun

(National Aeronautics and Space Administration) the U.S. space agency, whose mission statement is "To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind."

Native American
Noun

person whose ancestors were native inhabitants of North or South America. Native American usually does not include Eskimo or Hawaiian people.

optical illusion
Noun

image seen by the eyes that is different than what is actually there.

pareidolia
Noun

optical illusion involving the perception of a familiar pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist.

profile
Noun

outline of a face or body, especially as seen from the side.

Noun

any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

satellite
Noun

object that orbits around something else. Satellites can be natural, like moons, or made by people.

satellite imagery
Noun

photographs of a planet taken by or from a satellite.

valley
Noun

depression in the Earth between hills.