NASA Spots 'Star Trek' Starfleet Logo 'Dune Footprints' on Mars

NASA Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity Wdowiak Ridge

NASA's orbiting craft has now captured another image of a unusual chevron on the Martian surface eerily resembling the Star Trek Starfleet symbol. Just like the famous "face on Mars", this Starfleet logo was produced by random chance, as wind, lava and other forces sculpted the Martian landscape.

"A more scientifically accurate, if less entertaining, explanation of the Star Trek logo came in a statement from the University of Arizona, where NASA's HiRISE team is based: "'Long ago, there were large crescent-shaped (barchan) dunes that moved across this area, and at some point, there was an eruption".

"Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo", researcher Ross Beyer of the University of Arizona said in a statement that accompanied the photo release, adding, however, that it's a shame the snapshot is no evidence of "intrepid explorers" embarking on the bold mission. "You'd be right, but it's only a coincidence". The lava flowed out over the plain and around the dunes, but not over them. The likeness did not go unnoticed by one of Star Trek's biggest stars, William Shatner, who couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a friendly jab at the Star Wars franchise. The story starts with crescent-shaped sand dunes where wind and surface interacted.

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"However, they were still just dunes, and the wind continued to blow". Their footprints, called "dune casts", were left behind in the lava field. The symbol is, of course, the actual logo for "Star Trek", the TV series - but while it's mostly been confined to Earth, it's now gone to Mars.

The orbiter has been sending back high-resolution imagery for 13 years, well past its design lifetime.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which launched in 2005, arrived in the red planet's orbit the following year.

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