NASA Shares Eerie Image Of ‘Spiders’ Crawling On Mars Surface

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 15, 2018

Captioned "Jamming with the "Spiders" from Mars" - a witty reference to David Bowie's backing band in the early 1970s - the image unveils fantastic spider-looking features that can only be seen on the Mars, specifically at the planet's South Pole.

Over the last decade, we've been able to explore some of the uncanny scenery on the Red Planet thanks to NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has been circling our planetary neighbor since 2006.

"But these aren't actual spiders".

These peculiar features are "radially organized channels on Mars that look spider-like", NASA explains, and only come out during the Martian winter, when the carbon dioxide ice beneath the planet's surface gets warm and turns into gas. Scientists call this araneiform terrain.

Much like dry ice back on Earth, the Martian ice sublimates or chances form solid to gas, with the changing temperatures.

"This is an active seasonal process not seen on Earth".

As the carbon dioxide gas expands, the mounting pressure eventually cracks through the surface, creating the veiny "spider" formations on Mars, which are formally known as "araneiform topography". The dark spots in the image, meanwhile, are formed by dust deposited around vents where the Carbon dioxide erupts.

The force of eruption spews streaks of dark dust which spread out like a spider's spindly legs. The loss of the sublimated carbon dioxide results in the spider-like features in the surface.

The MRO is a £544million ($720million) exploration spacecraft launched towards Mars in August 2005.

The MRO photographs are taken by the HiRISE imager which is operated by the University of Arizona.

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