Black Spidery Things On Mars

By | October 5, 2012

Sand ridges, closer in.An artistWhat are those things? They were first seen in 1998; they don’t look like anything we have here on Earth. To this day, no one is sure what they are, but we now know this: They come, then they go. Every Martian spring, they appear out of nowhere, showing up — 70 percent of the time — where they were the year before. They pop up suddenly, sometimes overnight. When winter comes, they vanish.

As the sun gets hotter, they get more spidery. Here’s a closer image — like the one above, this gorgeous print was created by the photographer Michael Benson, just published in his new book, Planetfall. It shows two mounds of sand. The spidery thingies, you’ll notice, stay on the rises, not on the flat sandy plains.

What could they be? Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, from Hungary, from the European Space Agency have all proposed explanations; the leading one is so weird, it’s transformed my idea of what it’s like to be on Mars. For 20 years, I’ve thought the planet to be magnificently desolate, a dead zone, painted rouge. But imagine this: Every spring, the sun beats down on a southern region of Mars, morning light melts the surface, warms up the ground below, and a thin, underground layer of frozen CO2 turns suddenly into a roaring gas, expands, and carrying rock and ice, rushes up through breaks in the rock, exploding into the Martian air. Geysers shoot up in odd places. It feels random, like being surprise attacked by a monstrous, underground fountain. …

via Are Those Spidery Black Things On Mars Dangerous? (Maybe) : Krulwich Wonders… : NPR.

3 thoughts on “Black Spidery Things On Mars

  1. marjoriekaye

    Not to mention those curvy things that look organic, like bones or shells. Most peculiar and I like it too.

  2. arjay001

    It would be nice to get an idea of the scale of these pictures. If taken from 200 miles in space, how large are the spidery looking things? Is it sand dunes or rocky outcrops their clustered on? Would that have been a good place to land a rover? I think Mars holds more then a few surprises for us. If life once thrived on Mars, at what point was it extinguished?

  3. Lesley Thomas

    Reblogged this on Notes from the Otherworld and commented:
    The Alaskan Inupiaq have an ancient hero myth about huge spiders on the Moon that the human hero must battle

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