NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been boldly going where no one has gone before in the orbit of Mars for the past 13 years. It’s captured some of the most detailed images of the Mars surface that we’ve ever seen. Now, it’s spotted a particularly familiar looking landmark.
The photo was first spotted by the camera team at MRO HiRISE (High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) at the University of Arizona a few days ago. They’ve had the image since April 22nd but it’s just coming out now. They posted it to Twitter with the caption “Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo”.
Caption Spotlight (12 Jun 2019): Dune Footprints in Hellas
Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo.
— HiRISE (NASA) (@HiRISE) June 12, 2019
HiRISE describes how these formations came to exist on the service of Mars as “a complex story of dunes, lava and wind”. But essentially there used to be large dunes that moved the area, and at some point, there was an eruption which caused lava to spew and surround the dunes without covering them. When the sand blows away it leaves an imprint such as this one.
Launched in 2005, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter went up initially with just a two-year mission. It’s now been up there sending back data for almost 14 years now. I don’t know how long it’s going to keep going, but hopefully, it doesn’t run across V’ger.
Live long and prosper!
[Photo: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona]