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Science

The ‘face’ on Rosetta’s comet: Eerie human features spotted on 67P as the icy rock hurtles through deep space

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The world is eagerly awaiting sharper images of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after Rosetta went into orbit around the comet last week.

But one image has already caused excitement among space enthusiasts after the outline of a human face was spotted on the edge of the icy comet.

The German Aerospace Centre’s youth portal, DLR_next, spotted the optical illusion and pointed it out on Twitter last week.

Seeing faces in unusual and random objects is nothing new. The phenomenon is called Pareidolia is the psychological response to seeing faces and other significant and everyday items in random stimulus.

It is a form of apophenia, which is when people see patterns or connections in random, unconnected data.

Human eyes can spot faces within their environment and it helps them recongnise friends in the a crowd,work out how a car travelling and see pattern

Scientists claim we also tend to use this ability to ‘enrich our imagination’ and recognise meaningful shapes, even when they’re not there.

For instance, the Viking 1 Mars orbiter in 1976 sparked infamous claims of a ‘Face on Mars.’

This ‘Face on Mars’ image was taken about half-way between the Arandas Crater and Bamberg Crater in Cydonia.

When the image was seen by Viking chief scientist Gerry Soffen, he dismissed it as a ‘trick of light and shadow’.

Rosetta is currently in orbit within 62 miles (100km) of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko which is travelling at 34,000 mph (55,000 km per hour).

Described as ‘the sexiest, most fantastic mission ever’, the probe will spend more than a year analysing the comet to help uncover the secrets to life on Earth.

As well as the ‘alien face,’ there are already a number of fascinating features shown on recent images by the probe.

‘I was impressed that on the neck that connects the two parts of the comet there is something like the side of a mountain,’ mission director, Paolo Ferri, told MailOnline.

‘It’s like looking at the Alps on a very high wall. It is incredible. It makes you feel like you want to climb it.

‘And on one of the few areas that seem to be flat there are boulders 20 TO 30 metres wide, they look like houses.

‘They are there in complete isolation. In the coming days we can say more about what these features are.’

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