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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke February 10, 2023

The Mars Curiosity rover photographed rocks, not Third Reich relics

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  • Scientists working on the Mars Curiosity Rover mission have identified no helmets on Mars. 

Should David Bowie have been singing about the Third Reich on Mars instead of "Life on Mars?"

A recent Facebook post suggests as much. 

"NASA Curiosity finds Nazi helmet on Mars," the Feb. 5 post says, urging users to "read stories about Nazi UFO technology." 

There are also two images in the post of what appears to be a rusted helmet and an image of what looks like a rock that resembles a hat or helmet. 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union was the first person in space in 1961, more than 15 years after the fall of Nazi Germany. He didn’t go to Mars; no humans have. 

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NASA’s Curiosity Rover launched in November 2011 and landed on Mars in August 2012 with a mission to determine whether Mars ever had the right environmental conditions to support small life forms. The rover has captured more than half a million images that NASA publishes on its website. We couldn’t find the image in the Facebook post in that collection, but a NASA spokesperson said it looks as if it could be from the rover. 

Scientists working on the Curiosity mission have discovered interesting rock textures suggesting that lakes were around for much longer than expected on one Martian mountain Curiosity has been climbing since 2014. But they haven’t identified any helmets.

 But seeing what looks like a helmet, or another recognizable item in the rocks, isn’t unusual. NASA has a page dedicated to such, what it calls, "space oddities." 

"This happens because our brains often try to see shapes that are familiar, something we can relate to," according to NASA. "It happens with clouds, rocks, celestial bodies." 

Consider the "man in the Moon," or a 1976 image from Viking 1, the first aircraft to land on Mars. Some people thought they saw a face, but the shape was actually caused by missing photographic data called "bit errors." And in 2022, we fact-checked claims that the Curiosity Rover photographed a doorway, suggesting extraterrestrial life. But the rock formation photographed was no portal; it was a naturally occurring crevice that appears elsewhere on the planet. 

We rate claims that the Curiosity Rover found a Nazi helmet on Mars False.


Our Sources

Instagram post, Feb. 5, 2023

Email interview with Andrew Good, media relations specialist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Feb. 9, 2023

NASA, Space Oddities: NASA Sorts Fact From Fantasy, visited Feb. 9, 2023

NASA, Geologic 'Face on Mars' Formation, visited Feb. 9, 2023

NASA, NASA's Curiosity Finds Surprise Clues to Mars' Watery Past, Feb. 8, 2023

NASA, Mars Curiosity Rover, Raw Images, visited Feb. 9, 2023

NASA, Curiosity Rover Mission Overview, visited Feb. 9, 2023

The Atlantic, World War II: The Fall of Nazi Germany, Oct. 9, 2011

NASA, April 1961 - First Human Entered Space, April 1, 1961

BBC Earth, Will we ever set foot on Mars?, visited Feb. 9, 2023 


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The Mars Curiosity rover photographed rocks, not Third Reich relics

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