There appears to be a "face" on Comet 67P. Resembling very much the face of the Man in the Moon from the 1902 cinematic classic "Journey To The Moon," the newly released photo from the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft seems to show the craggy outlines of a human face on the deep space amalgam of rock and ice.
Space.com reported (via Yahoo News) Aug. 6 that the unusual topographic formations on Comet 67P were captured by Rosetta on its approach to the comet on Aug. 3. The photo encompasses the entire cometary structure with the face, which is nothing more than an optical illusion, seen on the right side of the comet as it is framed. (The close-up photos of the comet do not depict a tail, which becomes the casualty of proximity to the hurtling object.)
Such illusions, where the brain assigns patterns to objects and recognizes them as familiar entities, are called pareidolia. They're quite common in space photography. There are numerous nebula named for whatever the particular nebula most resembles, such as the Horsehead Nebula, the Crab Nebula, the Eye Of God, and countless others. Closer to the home planet, there are the examples of pareidolia in the photos of "Cookie Monster" on Mercury, the "Face on Mars," and the elephant "face" on Mars.
Officials with the German Aerospace Center's youth portal DLR_next (@DLR_next) spotted the optical illusion and posted it to Twitter. DLR is one of the European Space Agency members participating in the Rosetta mission.
The mission began in March 2004 when the Rosetta spacecraft launched from Kourou (Guinea Space Centre). It arrived at its destination on Aug. 6 after traveling 4 billion miles and ten years to catch Comet 67P and began maintaining an orbit around the deep space object. Further plans include landing on the object. Both the orbiting around and the landing on a comet are space exploration firsts, according to Time.
And one of the first things noticed about the comet? It was a mash-up of two distinct bodies -- and resembled a "rubber duck."
Here's the question: Do you see a face on Comet 67P, or a bunch of outcroppings?