In a neat reversal of another recent dubious discovery, a human has been found on Mercury.
Well, not quite. But a picture taken by Nasa has intrigued armchair astronomers this week, by appearing to be a dead ringer for Han Solo encased in Carbonite from the Star Wars films.
The picture taken by the Messenger probe, which was sent to the planet in 2004, shows the humanoid shape near to the small planet's Caloris basin.
It was taken in 2011 but had not been publicly released until this week.
Nasa also sent out this brilliant press release to go with the picture which, it pointed out, is not the first time that a humanoid shape has been found in Mercury.
"If there are two things you should remember, it's not to cross a Hutt, and that Mercury's surface can throw up all kinds of surprises. In this image, a portion of the terrain surrounding the northern margin of the Caloris basin hosts an elevated block in the shape of a certain carbonite-encased smuggler who can make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.
This block may be part of the original surface that pre-dates the formation of Caloris, which was shaped by material ejected during the basin-forming event. The act of seeing a meaningful shape in random landforms is a form of pareidolia--and has been seen for Mercury more than a few times before..."
Unfortunately Nasa also points out that the picture is unlikely to be Han Solo for more reasons than the fact he's a fictional character - for one thing the scene as photographed is about 96 kilometres across:
"Han Solo" on the surface of Mercury:
And here's Han Solo in carbonite:
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