The internet erupted with responses after a U.S. congressman baffled a panel of senior NASA scientists on whether ancient civilizations existed on Mars "thousands of years ago."
During a hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on Tuesday, U.S. Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher stunned a panel of senior space experts when he asked about life on Mars, video showed.
"You have indicated that Mars was totally different thousands of years ago. Is it possible that there was a civilization on Mars thousands of years ago?" Rohrabacher asked.
The question was an add-on at the hearing, which was about the U.S. space agency NASA's upcoming flagship missions to other planets, including Mars and Europa, an ice-covered moon of Jupiter.
Behind the question, the California Republican's premise was inaccurate because "the evidence is that Mars was different billions of years ago, not thousands of years ago," said Kenneth Farley, a project scientist on NASA's Mars Rover 2020 Project.
"There is no evidence that I'm aware of," said the noble scientist at the California Institute of Technology.
"Would you rule that out? See, there's some people ... well, anyway..." Rohrabacher persisted, referring to civilizations existing on the red planet.
After he was told by the space expert that an ancient colony on Mars was 'extremely unlikely', the exchange drew notice on the internet.
Science news Twitter account @earthskyscience, which has over 817,000 followers, asked: 'You decide...was he for real?'
New York Times bestselling author's account @kurteichenwald, which has over 347,000 followers, said: "I wish the NASA folk testifying before @DanaRohrabacher had, when he asked about life on mars, just answered "Yes" with a straight face."
American television host Rachel Maddow's Twitter account @maddow, which has over 7,940,000, tweeted: "The congressman is not joking. The scientist witness is... very kind."
Others said the congressman was seriously wondering whether there was a civilization on Mars and he was asking purely on behalf of America's curious kids.
Photos by NASA's Viking 1 Mars orbiter in 1976 and subsequent clearer images by later spacecraft revealed the "Face on Mars" to be nothing more than a rock formation.
However, The belief that aliens may live on Mars has a rich history, some still believe that there is Red Planet civilization. And there even is a conspiracy theory which has been maintaining for years that the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is hiding evidence of Mars civilizations.