NASA Spacecraft Spots ‘Star Trek’ Emblem on Mars

It seems to be like Starfleet is actually embedded on the planet subsequent door: A dune within the form of the well-known brand from “Star Trek” seems prominently in a brand new image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Even Captain Kirk himself (actor William Shatner) has weighed in.

Do not look forward to finding Spock, Jean-Luc Picard or Michael Burnham squatting close by, nevertheless. Identical to the well-known “face on Mars,” this Starfleet brand was produced by random likelihood, as wind, lava and different forces sculpted the Martian panorama.

“Enterprising viewers will make the invention that these options look conspicuously like a well-known brand,” the College of Arizona, which manages the MRO HiRISE (Excessive Decision Imaging Science Experiment) digicam, mentioned in a press release. “You would be proper, but it surely’s solely a coincidence.”

Associated: The Weirdest Mars Discoveries by Alternative and Spirit Rovers

The dune function is situated in Hellas Planitia, a big plain throughout the Hellas impression basin within the southern hemisphere of Mars. An interplay of dunes, lava and wind shaped the chevron form seen within the image, in accordance with the assertion. MRO has photographed many different chevrons on Mars, so we’re guessing this isn’t the primary time it noticed one formed like a “Star Trek” brand.

Scientists working with the HiRISE instrument have spent years finding out the options they see in Mars photographs, and so they suppose they’ve sense of how this specific form got here to be. The story begins with crescent-shaped sand dunes the place wind and floor interacted.

Then got here lava. Eruptions spilled the molten substance throughout the realm surrounding the dunes, but it surely wasn’t thick sufficient to cowl them solely. And when the lava cooled, the sand dunes remained, “caught up like islands,” in accordance with the assertion.

“Nonetheless, they have been nonetheless simply dunes, and the wind continued to blow,” the assertion continued. “Ultimately, the sand piles that have been the dunes migrated away, leaving these ‘footprints’ within the lava plain. These are additionally known as ‘dune casts’ and file the presence of dunes that have been surrounded by lava.”

Whereas the “Star Trek” function is a coincidence, we are able to really say that MRO has “lived lengthy and prospered” (because the Trekkie saying goes) on the Crimson Planet. The orbiter has been sending again high-resolution imagery for 13 years, properly previous its design lifetime. It serves as a significant communications relay for NASA’s Curiosity rover and InSight lander and is anticipated to help the Mars 2020 rover mission when that craft lands on the Crimson Planet. 

Observe Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.  

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