HomeScience & Tech"Spider" Patterns on Mars: A Natural Phenomenon

“Spider” Patterns on Mars: A Natural Phenomenon

Recently, the European Space Agency (ESA) released an image captured by the Mars Express spacecraft, revealing what appears to be a swarm of spiders crawling across Mars’ surface near a formation known as the Inca City. However, these formations are not actual spiders but rather small, dark-colored features formed when sunlight interacts with carbon dioxide deposits during the planet’s winter months.

As sunlight falls on the carbon dioxide ice, it causes it to turn into gas, which then bursts through the thick ice, releasing dust in geyser-like blasts before settling on the surface. Despite appearing tiny from space, these spots are actually quite large, ranging from 145 feet to over half a mile wide. The arachnid-like pattern is carved beneath the carbon dioxide ice, adding to the spider-like appearance.

These spider patterns were also observed in 2020 by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, which has been studying Mars for signs of possible past life. Most of these dark spots are located near the “Inca City” area, near the planet’s south polar cap, though it’s unclear how they were formed. Suggestions include processes like sand dunes turning into stone over time or material seeping through rock.

The Mars Express orbiter, which arrived at Mars in late 2003, has been instrumental in studying various aspects of the planet, including its atmosphere, history of water, Martian moons, and providing stunning views of the Martian surface in three dimensions. These ongoing observations continue to deepen our understanding of the Red Planet and its intriguing features.

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