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By on October 12, 2006, with 92 Comments

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.”

Mars Crater or Convex Mars Island?


92 Responses
  1. me says:

    nope. not seeing the island. wasnt this on yahoo most viewed pictures or something? i know ive seen it somewhere…..

  2. hdtroll says:

    Cool image, although if you think about it, you have shadows proving that it’s concave.

  3. vurdlak says:

    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..!

  4. Becz says:

    I can’t see the crator, but i can see the island. I guess i’m just weird lol

  5. was this on says:

    was this on ‘riding with robots’ or NASA astro pic of the day?

  6. Alisha says:

    uuummmm….. all i see is a crater… nothing else

  7. Michael J says:

    to me its obviously a crater- i can’t see it as an island, the shadows won’t let me!

  8. Dane says:

    I saw the island at first, but closer inspection of the edges made the crater more apparent.

  9. Daft SPARTAN-117 says:

    it u just look at the bottom right edge of the crater, it looks like an island. Nice one

  10. SteveyD says:

    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?

  11. no likey name says:

    yakes a while to se the creator

  12. me says:

    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?

  13. hmm says:

    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.

  14. Dar'Qwon says:

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

  15. scott says:

    nope looks exactly like a crater to me

  16. soulseeker says:

    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)

  17. .......... says:

    Dont see n island at all, bad illusion

  18. me says:

    gah….i can kinda see it now……but not really……….you have no idea how much this is bothering me!

  19. zecaneto says:

    it is so obvious that is a crater!!! Even someone who cannot see it can feel it!!!

  20. Vivek says:

    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…

  21. Ovipositor says:

    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’

  22. Amy says:

    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!

  23. Rpb says:

    This is dumb

  24. yomama says:

    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…

  25. Amy says:

    To see it as the ‘island’ think of it as a jelly cup…

  26. hg says:

    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.

  27. Deborah_S says:

    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.

  28. DB says:

    i saw a crater on my widget, but all i can see now is the island!

    if only we could go there and prove it :p

  29. dnoyes says:

    Try as I may, my brain will not let me see the island.

  30. kimi says:

    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!

  31. Euan says:

    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)

  32. chinochano says:

    I’ve to concentrate a lot to see the island, but yes, it is there. Although the crater is much more easy to identify.

  33. DSET says:

    This is rust under a paint job in an old car.

  34. Blue says:

    No Blue in Mars!

  35. Mystic says:

    No matter how hard or how relaxed I try I can not see it as an island.

  36. Melf says:

    I only see a crater…..

  37. Kurt says:

    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°


  38. chick says:

    The island is a no go…crater all the way. The shadows are fucken it up for me.

  39. HottShot says:

    I don’t see an island… What’s the illusion supposed to be though?

  40. RandomGuy says:

    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….

  41. -J- says:

    I see an apple pie… but I’m baked and have the munchies.

  42. zo says:

    i don’t see the island at all

  43. lala says:

    I think it should be and illusion of in or out.

  44. knowitall says:

    with the exception of the bottom right corner, it always looks like a crater

  45. Daniel says:

    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.

  46. Yes says:

    Turn it upside-down, that really helps

  47. matanglawin says:

    The colors are inverted…

  48. Elum says:

    I never really saw a convex object… the first thing I saw was a wind eroded crater, the shadows are a good way to tell.

  49. me says:

    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?

  50. me says:

    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!

  51. fxer says:

    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 :)

  52. Anonymous says:

    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.

  53. Spongebob says:

    I can only see the crater.

  54. Chan says:

    i don’t where the island is but all i see is a concave crater , and looks to me like a concave volcano.

  55. Anonymous says:

    I can only see a crater.

  56. Anonymous says:

    It looks to me like a Jelly Fish on the beach, with a little bit of sand on it, drying in the sun,

  57. xixluvxkyoxsohmax says:

    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…

  58. Bgirl says:

    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.

  59. Anonymous says:

    Nope, I only see a crater, sorry:/….

  60. ER says:

    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

  61. damianna says:

    nuts. this is crazzzzzy

  62. Anonymous says:

    wickid this is cool but dont think its a island just crater

  63. 42543985746538967 says:

    I”m only seing the island; no crater here…

  64. Anonymous says:

    Crater, duh

  65. CAL says:

    AKA FAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  66. Anonymous says:

    shadows told me its crater :D

  67. pad says:

    crator on a island?.!

  68. coolez says:

    DONT GET IT !@#$%^&*(?????

  69. Greymalkin says:

    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!

  70. Brian Peralta says:

    i saw a crater

  71. ohmygosh says:

    actually, it didn’t look convex at all to me. It was difficult trying to make the crater look convex.

  72. Jacey says:

    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.

  73. for people which cant see it turn upside down

  74. jeremy says:

    i don’t see how this would look convex to anyone… maybe if you’re half blind i guess…….

  75. jeremy says:

    the shadows kinda made it obvious to me that it was a crater. no matter what i do i can’t see this image as convex

  76. Expert on the subject says:

    It’s obviously a crater. I am expert man, and you obviously are lose.

  77. KlUmSy_1 says:

    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 .

  78. Phil says:

    Wow, it actually needed me to be drunk to start notice its a crater instead of being Convex (pointing outwards.

  79. oooookkk says:

    turning it upside down helps ten fold

  80. veeronic says:

    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

  81. Benj Arriola says:

    Just a crater. Shadows are inside. None outside.

  82. Angie says:

    i stared at it then looked away to read the text above it and it looks as if it’s moving further away

  83. Sssshhhhh says:

    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.

  84. Smart Alec says:

    You can make it a crater by covering the bottom right corner of it and you can make it a “island” by covering the top left corner :)

  85. Chey says:

    Looks like a crater, that’s the only way I can see it.

  86. GenCat says:

    uh…. crater….? (srsly?)

  87. kamal nayan padhh says:

    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.

  88. stardragon says:

    Kamal: Could you speak English please?

  89. STR e t C H says:


  90. Lee Koi says:

    I can force myself to see it as an island for a while but it keeps coming back as a crater

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