Mars Crater or Convex Mars “Island”?

What do you think this photo from Mars below represents? Is it a Convex Object or Concave Crater? Many of my friends argued on this one, before I gave them true answer. NASA said it shows “Victoria crater,” an impact crater at Meridiani Planum – near the equator of Mars. The crater is approximately 800 meters (half a mile) in diameter. Peter Hosey sent in this fabulous illusion. He said that it “Looks like a convex object, but that’s actually a crater — the Victoria Crater at Meridian Planum on Mars, photographed by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.”

93 Replies to “Mars Crater or Convex Mars “Island”?”

  1. if you try, and think of it as an “island” you will have troubles looking at it as crater next time.

    imagine those shadows were cliffs in a shadow..!

  2. At first I could only see the crater, but I found by focusing on the dark shadows, as soon as my vision relaxed, it turned covex…If that doesn’t help, the crater has a light source at the top left, while the theoretical island would have one at the bottom right…

    It’s a lot like that face… erm… thing. A well-known convex/concave illuison. Does anyone know the one I’m talking about?

  3. gah you have no idea how much this is bothering me ive come back at least ten times and i still cant see it! and you where i think i saw it (see first post)….my science teacher has an earth science picture of the day as her background, i think that’s where, id have to check. vurdlak?

  4. Ya, at first it looked nothing like an island…

    If you focus on the yellow glow around the edges of the crater, it makes it appear as an island.

  5. StevieD,
    Are you talking about the face on the Mars surface. If that is the Case, I think you are talking about Olympus Mons.

  6. thats pretty cool, i remember seeing something on pictures like this on tv, something with not able to have depth perseption or something (you kind-of get the same optical illusion in V for Vendetta when V is putting on his mask in the beggining)

  7. When I saw it first, it looked convex. After a little while, I again looked at it, and it appeared concave. Once it appears convex/concave, it is almost impossible to see it the other way. A really great illusion…

  8. treat it not just as convex, but as an actual island (like in the middle of an ocean) and it will become apparent, i saw the crater immediately, and it took a little longer to see the ‘island’

  9. OH WOW!!
    I thought you guys were going a bit crazy with all this convex talk, i couldnt see that perspective at all…. i just took another look and it blew me away, i couldnt understand why i was so convinced it was a crater!
    Awesome Awesome!

  10. I thought it looked like an ameba at first then i saw an island then a crater but i am having more trouble seeing a crater…

  11. It will help if you turn the image by 180 degree.

    I think we are used to see the light coming from the top, so most people will see the crater in that image first.

  12. I dont know about an island, but if you look at it for a while you suddenly see that its near to full of water! You can see through the water surface down into the depths near the bottom right where some dark colouration in the sediment can be seen, and of course those waves near the centre nail it.

  13. OMG! vurdlak, you’re totally right!

    I saw this as a crater the first time seeing it, I couldn’t even see it as an island. After reading your post, I went back to look at it, and it’s an island!

    Now, I can’t see it as a crater anymore!

  14. I’m the same as Michael J, the shadows at the top left-hand-side wont let me see the object as an island, only as a crater with a light source from the top left (as pointed out by SteveyD! Good call)

  15. if the image was presented upside down, the illusion would have been more dramatic.

    I rotated it in Photoshop 180° and the eye is definitely tricked by the shadows.

    for a really cool effect, place two images of this shot next to each other and rotate one of them 180°


  16. soz but ur all wrong, this is a 4-d donut looping over itself being percieved in a 3-d dimension under 2-d conditions…this is wat happens when chuck norris performs a roundhouse kick….

  17. No matter how hard I try, or how many times I look at it, I just can’t make it look like an island of any sort. It’s always a crater. It’d driving me crazy, I’ve followed all the advice on the page trying to convince my eyes/mind to visualize an island…

    Eveynow and these crop up, where I can’t make myself see the wrong thing, and I’m usually just absolutely baffled that anyone does.

  18. zomg! i can FINALLY see it! this has been bothering me for so long, i knew i wasnt seeing it right! this newest illusion gave me the idea; i turned the computer upside down thats so cool! people flip the picture! vurdlak please post flipped version?

  19. hey yeah i knew id seen it somewhere……check here. my science teacher has a picture of the day from this site as her desktop background, and i knew id seen it somewhere……ill have to tell her to turn it upside down!

  20. I had to cover the northwest hemisphere with my hand to see the “island”. It looks like a piece of metal with a splotch of welding tack on it now that I can see it :)

  21. This is pretty common with many NASA images — NASA’s publishing standard (and this may have changed in the past few years) is to orient the pictures to have the light source coming from the bottom right corner of the image.

    Most modern operating systems draw their widgets with the light source coming from the top left. Since you have become used to assuming the “sun” in your operating system is in the top left of the screen, when you see pictures where the light source is bottom-left, you will see it convex instead of concave.

    If you don’t see the crater as convex, Try saving the crater image and rotating it 180% – it should “pop out” immediately.

  22. I saw it as a crator first, but then I put it on word and turned it upside down, and it looked convex, then put it the right way around, and it still looked convex…

  23. I have been looking and looking and looking, and could not see it as an island. After turning it upside down in paint, I finally saw what everyone was talking about, but I don’t think “island” is a word I would choose to describe it, that was what was really messing me up. It’s more of a…glowing seashell…or bottle cap or rock or something.

  24. haha! finally i saw the island.. i only see the crater.. but i suppose you should save the image on your desktop.. use image and fax viewer of microsoft, and rotate the image… one of the commentors helped me :D

  25. Didn’t look like an island at ALL to me – could only see the crater. I couldn’t see how anyone would think it’s an island. Then I did what “Anonymous” said to do, and I rotated the image 180 degrees (I just turned my laptop upside down!!) If you do this, it “pops out” right away!

  26. Funny, all I could see was an island until reading about 7 comments on how all anyone could see was a crater. I stared for about 10 minutes straight trying to see a crater and it just wasn’t happening. Then just a few comments convinced my brain of what it was I was seeing.

  27. if you can’t tell this is a crater … somethings wrong with your vision . the only question i had was “where was it” , it looks like the one that was left in new mexico many years ago .

  28. you idiots, obviously its a crater, just look at the damn shading, this can’t be an illusion because only a moron would see it the other way

  29. This works better with a smoother circle crater like you see with moon craters. Where this one has ridges, the shadow totally tells you it’s a crater.

  30. while on observation, what i could presume that impact of an alien object irregular in shape was so in high velocity that it just carved/sheared through the Mars surface and more or less retained its projected shape at the rim of the crater. further the retention was helped by the very cold surface of Mars as it diffused the high temperature instantly. the central portion in the crater could be perhaps due to very very hard core underneath, which resisted the falling body.

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