A strange image was spotted on the surface of Mars by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and some people think that it looks like the "Star Trek" Starfleet logo.
The image was captured in the southeast Hellas Planitia region on the surface of Mars.
The team that first discovered the region says that many similar shapes on the planet are caused by the wind or lava changing the form of dunes.
Caption Spotlight (12 Jun 2019): Dune Footprints in Hellas
Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo.
— HiRISE: Beautiful Mars (NASA) (@HiRISE) June 12, 2019
In a press release, the scientists explained:
"Long ago, there were large crescent-shaped (barchan) dunes that moved across this area, and at some point, there was an eruption. The lava flowed out over the plain and around the dunes, but not over them. The lava solidified, but these dunes still stuck up like islands. However, they were still just dunes, and the wind continued to blow. Eventually, the sand piles that were the dunes migrated away, leaving these “footprints” in the lava plain. These are also called “dune casts” and record the presence of dunes that were surrounded by lava."
The MRO has been exploring Mars from orbit since 2006, capturing some of the most detailed images that researchers have of the planet's surface. The device takes roughly 50,000 pictures of the Martian surface a year.
The actual goal of these missions is to search for water on the red planet.
This is not the first time that people have claimed to see a strange image in a photograph of the surface of Mars.
The most iconic photograph taken of the surface of Mars is the "face" seen below:
The photo of the infamous face was taken by the NASA's Viking spacecraft in 1976. The size of the head was apparently enormous, some researchers suggest that the rock was two miles from end to end. The photos were snapped in a region of Mars known as Cydonia.
Jim Garvin, the chief scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, said that it was an important image to capture.
"We felt this was important to taxpayers. We photographed the Face as soon as we could get a good shot at it," Jim Gavin.
According to NASA, "on April 5, 1998, when Mars Global Surveyor flew over Cydonia for the first time, Michael Malin and his Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) team snapped a picture ten times sharper than the original Viking photos. Thousands of anxious web surfers were waiting when the image first appeared on a JPL web site, revealing ... a natural landform. There was no alien monument after all."
While Star Trek fans and curiosity seekers may find this exciting, the similarities in the design and the shapes on the planet are purely a coincidence, same goes with the face as well. In fact, a second shape similar to the Star Trek logo was seen on the planet shortly after the first one, showing that the wind can commonly cause these shapes in the dust.
Express reported that "The NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is searching for evidence that water persisted on the Red Planet’s surface. While other Mars missions indicated water once flowed across its now barren surface, it remains a mystery whether H2O was ever around long enough to provide a habitat for alien life. But NASA’s probe has now spotted something totally unexpected from above – an mysterious Star Trek logo marking on Mars. NASA’s orbiting craft has now captured another image of a strange chevron on the Martian surface eerily resembling the Star Trek Starfleet symbol."
NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, recently warned an audience at the International Academy of Astronautics’ Planetary Defense Conference, about the very real possibility of a large meteor crashing into the earth.
Bridenstine reference a large meteor that entered the earth’s atmosphere and exploded over Chelyabinsk, in central Russia, in February of 2013. The meteor measured roughly 20 meters in diameter and was traveling at 40,000 mph.