For years, several conspiracy theorists have speculated that the #Red Planet was once home to an ancient Martian civilisation. After keeping out of the controversial discourse for long, #nasa has finally addressed the issue, and it begs to differ.

During a hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held on 18 July, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher asked a panel of planetary scientists if aliens existed on Mars a “thousand years ago”.

Kenneth Farley, a senior NASA Mars rover scientist and a professor of geochemistry at the California Institute of Technology, addressed the surprising query. “So, the evidence is that Mars was different billions of years ago, not thousands of years ago, and there is no evidence I’m aware of that – ”

Before the space boffin could finish the sentence, Rohrabacher butted in and asked whether Farley would rule out the possibility.

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“I would say that is extremely unlikely,” replied Farley.

Apparently, the alien life theory developed in the 1970s

Over the decades, many orbiters, landers, and rovers have scoured the surface of the Red Planet, but none have detected any evidence of intelligent organisms’ existence so far. “But that doesn't necessarily mean the Red Planet has never supported life of any kind,” said a Space.com report.

The alien life theory developed in 1976, when NASA’s Viking space probe beamed back a strange image which many claimed was an artificially constructed building, much like the Great Sphinx of Giza. However, subsequent investigation revealed that the structure was just an eroded rock.

But the conspiracy theorists disagreed and claimed that the explanation given by the space agency was merely a cover-up to hide the truth.

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After poring through images sent back by the Curiosity Rover (NASA’s droid that’s remotely exploring Mars), researchers looking for alien #Life On Mars stated that they had found images of what appears to be fossilised bones scattered across the planet’s surface along with growing fungi and lichens on the rocks’ surface.

The photos began circulating after a YouTube video titled "Fossilized Bones, Petrified Wood, Fungus & Lichen, Growth & Movement, Life on Mars" featured these images.

Such 'discoveries' could be the result of Pareidolia

In April, a website called ufosightingsdaily.com posted a series of images taken by the Curiosity Rover which, according to the website, showed an alien lizard sitting on the robotic rover. Later, Mick West, admin of Metabunk.org, provided close up images and concluded that it was just a dust removal device at the top of the droid. West’s website focuses on investigating and exposing hoax UFO and alien sightings.

From footprints and a tree stump to cosmic cutlery, alien chasers claim to have discovered it all on the rocky surface of the planet.

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What’s more, some alien hunters have suggested that Mars was once teeming with aliens and that life was wiped out on the planet following an intergalactic nuclear war.

However, sceptics have dismissed all these claims stating that such findings are nothing but a case of pareidolia.

Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon in which the mind tricks the eyes into seeing familiar objects or hearing something significant where none exists. It’s a type of apophenia, which is a more generalised term for seeing patterns in random data, explained a Live Science article. Most common examples of this phenomenon see a likeness of Jesus on a toast, human-like faces on a hill or an image of a man on the surface of the moon.