Upon seeing NASA’s glorious Mars penis for the first time, I attempted to get to the bottom of the mysterious member. Was the “drawing” an intentional joke, or a happy accident? Which Mars rover left the tracks? Would the space agency care to comment?

After two emails to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab were shot back with an error message attached– “551 5.0.0 Message contains unacceptable words” –I reconfigured my language (goodbye, penis; hello, “male reproductive organ”) and pressed forward. Eventually, I heard back from lab spokeswoman Jane Platt, and though she didn’t address the intentionality of the penis, she did direct me towards some new (old) information.

It turns out the image has been online since 2005, and is part of a much larger panorama of photos from the Red Planet dating back to 2004. It was taken by the rover Spirit, on its “59th through 61st martian days,” “from a position about halfway between the landing site and the rim of Bonneville Crater,” according to NASA.

The description of the image on the Jet Propulsion Lab site continues: “The location is within the transition from the relatively smooth plains to the more rocky and rugged blanket of material ejected from Bonneville by the force of the impact that dug the crater.”

None of that stuff addresses whether NASA was intentionally dicking us, obviously, but hey, the more you know. Oh, and you can grab super hi-res Mars dick pics here.