A dune formation found on Mars would seem — without knowing the story of dunes, lava and wind behind it — highly illogical.
Many fans of the show "Star Trek" are noting one particular dune "footprint" looks curiously like the show's logo. But scientists say this is just a coincidence. Here's why:
A long time ago, there were large crescent-shaped dunes that moved across the Hellas Planitia (plain) area of Mars. Eventually, there was an eruption that caused the lava to flow over the plain and around the dunes, not over them, according to an article by the University of Arizona.
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This allowed the dunes to stick up like islands and the wind was still able to blow them around. When the sand piles flew away, they left these "footprints" in the lava plain. The "dune casts," as they are also known, record the presence of dunes surrounded by lava.
"Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo," the space team's Twitter post read when unveiling the photo.
The picture was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The program's principle investigator is Alfred McEwan from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, according to the orbiter's page on the National Aeroneutics and Space Agnecy's website.