Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Finds Star Trek Deltas on Mars

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona 

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona 

Science fiction meets science fact in a really weird way today.

CNET brings us the story that a new image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (or MRO) appears to show a large, Star Trek-style delta atop a Martian sand dune. The image was captured using HiRISE, MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment. The HiRISE team, based out of the University of Arizona in Tucson, tweeted out the image yesterday morning, saying, “Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo.”

Planetary Scientist Ross Beyer, in an accompanying caption, explained the formation: “These curious chevron shapes in southeast Hellas Planitia are the result of a complex story of dunes, lava, and wind. 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.”

Other similar images, less zoomed in, show similar delta shapes dotted across the region. No sign of Captain Georgiou or Michael Burnham.

Alison Pitt