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It's Mars-hatma Gandhi! Father of India's image is spotted on Red Planet

When surveying the amazing pictures sent from Europe's Mars Orbiter back to Earth you would expect to enjoy images of mist-capped volcanoes and deep craters.

What you couldn't predict is seeing Mohandas 'Mahatma' Gandhi's profile etched into the rock. But an Italian space enthusiast called Matteo Lanneo has found exactly that.
He was scanning through the latest images sent by Europe's Mars Express probe when he came across this uncanny resemblance to the father of the Indian nation.

The head appears to have a moustache and shaven head and prominent eyebrows, just like the political leader. It's not the first time that a face has been spotted on Mars.

In July 1976, the American Viking 1 Orbiter took a photograph that appeared to show a hill in the shape of a human face on the dusty surface of Mars.

Within days of its discovery in 1976, space enthusiasts were speculating that the structure was man-made and had been built by Martians in the distant past.

However, an image taken with Nasa’s high-definition HiRISE camera in 2010 showed the face was just a large, rocky hill.

Seeing faces on Mars is a case of pareidolia - where a random stimulus is perceived as having significance, be it a symbol seen in a cloud or a face on a piece of toast. Scientists theorise the phenomenon occurs because humans are hardwired to recognise familiar objects as a survival technique.

ESA’s Mars Express has just celebrated its eighth years in space. The Orbiter takes high-resolution images and maps the minerals on the surface. It also explores the subsurface using radar.

It carried a UK-built lander called Beagle 2 into space, but this was lost during its descent to the planet.

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