NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Spots Star Trek Inspired Logo

By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter

June 16, 2019

The Martian surface may be a cold, barren wasteland without much to look at, but occasionally, you can find some pretty interesting stuff to look at. For example, this collection of strange chevron symbols found on a Martian sand dune in the southern Hellas Planitia region that looks a lot like the iconic Starfleet logo from the science fiction series, 'Star Trek.'

The image, captured by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiters's HiRISE camera (High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), back on April 22, was highlighted by the agency in a Twitter post this week.

"Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo," the team wrote on Wednesday.

The bizarre shapes were discovered in the southeast Hellas Planitia on Mars. The agency says the Starfleet-inspired shape came from a complex interaction between dunes, lava and wind on the Red Planet.

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.

Of course, the agency says, any resemblance to a famous logo from a science fiction show is purely coincidental.

The MRO has been capturing detailed images of the Martian surface from orbit since 2006.

Photo: NASA

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