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‘Spider’ Phenomenon Found On Mars

Source: X/JeffreyJDavis

When you think of life on Mars, what do you imagine? Most people think of little green men or gray Martians. Well, a photo from ESA’s Mars Express shows something far different. 

It shows a large collection of what looks like Spiders, something right out of an arachnophobe’s nightmares. But are these actual spiders or another optical illusion by the red planet? Let’s find out!

Are These Actual Spiders?

Seeing spiders on Mars is a huge deal. It means that the red planet has intelligent life, and not just any life, but arachnids. So what are these? Are they actual spiders? Sadly, the answer is no. They’re small dark features caused by carbon dioxide.

Source: NASA

This carbon dioxide is deposited during the winter on Mars and then later turns to gas when the sun comes up and thaws the ice. Note that the chemical is trapped at the bottom layer of the ice. But when it turns to gas, it shoots out rapidly.

The Gas Carries Dark Materials Along

This rapidly escaping case leaves the bottom of the ice layers but carries a lot of dark materials along with it. These jets of gas also crack the surrounding ice before landing on the surface.

Source: X/esa

Once the pressure dies down and the dark materials settle, the result is a very dark spot. These spots can be 45m to 1km across, making them visible from space. Because of how the entire process happens, the remaining hole looks like giant spiders.

The ‘Spiders’ Were Also Captured By The  ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

The ESA’s Mars Express is credited for getting a photo of this interesting Mars phenomenon. But at almost the same time, another Mars explorer witnessed the event. Basically, the spiders were also photographed by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO).

Source: X/danieladepaulis

It captured the tendril-like pattern enough to get more detail. What’s more interesting was that it captured different angles of these spider-like objects. This is because it was near but slightly outside the region where the Mars Express took its photo.

The ‘Spiders’ Were Everywhere

Arachnophobes will definitely feel uncomfortable looking at the Mars photo. The spider-like holes left behind almost covered the entire area where the pictures were taken. The Express image shows it creeping across hiss and even plain ground.

Source: X/contactonews1

They can be seen in the dark outskirts of Mars, like spiders that just hatched. This dark corner is named the Inca City because of how its patterns closely resemble the Inca ruins. These ruins were interestingly discovered by NASA in 1972.

Mars’ Inca City Has Baffled Scientists For Decades

The spider’s phenomenon isn’t the only strange thing about Mars’ Inca City. In fact, the dark area has puzzled scientists for decades. One big mystery is how it formed. Some people believe that it could be from sand dunes that later turned to stones over time.

Source: NASA

On the other hand, it could be that materials like magma or sand are slowly leaving Mars’ fractured sheets. Some scientists even proposed that the Inca city ridges could be wind structures called “eskers”. But the truth is still unknown.

‘It Could Be A Large Crater’

The hypothesis doesn’t end there. Scientists speculate that Mar’s Inca City sits on a large crater that eventually formed as more rocks from space smashed that region. The impact then caused lava to spill out then solidify to form the area.

Source: X/ESA_History

This hypothesis comes from how the “walls” in the Inca City look like. They seem to be part of a large circle that’s up to 86 km in diameter. The structure and all seems to closely resemble a crater, which then makes this idea plausible. 

More Support For the Crater-Lava Theory

Is there more data to support the idea? There seems to be. Experts point towards the middle of the image. There, you will find large round swirls that look very similar to a marble. This usually happens when layered deposits are worn away with time. 

Source: X/NASA

Next, turn to the center of the image and you’ll also notice flat mounds and hills. These are as high as 1,500 m above ground zero. Why is this important? Because they often happen when the wind, ice, and water erode softer materials.

Back To The Spiders On Mars

Enough about the origin of Mars’ Inca City. What would actually happen if these were spiders? For starters, it would be confirmation that life exists in space. Not just any type of life, but multicellular organisms, which is a big deal.

Source: X/DeeehAndradee

It could lead scientists down a rabbit hole, trying to come up with explanations for how this is possible on Mars. It would also raise questions about whether there’s more that we haven’t discovered on the desert planet yet.

Spiders Would Also Suggest There’s More Life

Based on how the theory of evolution works, spiders would have evolved from other life forms. This would also mean there are other life forms related to these spiders due to speciation just like on Earth.

Source: Wikimedia/Jack Pfaller

So, the scientists would have had to dedicate more time and resources to understanding the Martian atmosphere and previous conditions. Space agencies may even develop machines to bring one of these creatures to test on Earth. But that’s how horror movies start!

Fortunately, No Giant Spiders

Arachnophobes don’t have to be scared however, there are no giant spiders coming to Earth from Mars. They are merely jets of gas that carry some Martian dirt and also crack the ice above them.

Source: X/esaoperations

The result is a hole and some debris that looks like a spider. While it’s an interesting discovery, it’s not the first optical illusion from the planet.

The Doorway On Mars

Just two years ago, the Mars Curiosity rover took a picture of what seems to be a doorway on Mars. Once it was released to the public, it instantly became viral. People brought different ideas with some saying it’s proof that there are aliens on Mars.

Source: Flickr/Richard Mortel

But later, experts did some more analysis and brought the real explanation. Unfortunately for the enthusiasts, the doorway was merely three feet tall and had a shallow opening. This obviously wasn’t a door since that kind of rock formation can happen over millions of years.

The Face On Mars

Before the doorway on Mars, there was the face that got the whole internet talking. This optical illusion was on the Cydonia part of the red planet and was captured by the  Viking 1 orbiter.

Source: X/DaveRosenman

The image looked like it had eyes, a nose, and a mouth, but years later, the truth came out. Once better pictures were taken of the same region, the face was nothing more than a few rocks casting a shadow that ended up looking like a face.

Mars Is Undoubtedly Fascinating

There’s no doubt that the red planet is fascinating. The best part is that as technology advances, we get a deeper look at its surface.

Source: Flickr/European Space Agency

Probes like the Mars Express have shown us a lot about Mars. From rock formations to spider-like eruptions, we can’t wait for what we’ll find next.

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Mary Scrantin

Written by Mary Scrantin

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