There are no spiders on Mars, but not far away

There are no spiders on Mars, but not far away
There are no spiders on Mars, but not far away

Rest assured, Martians are not spiders! Characteristics of the phenomenon recorded by the European Space Agency are dark marks formed by the activity of carbon dioxide gas.

Unique phenomena on the red planet

In the Martian spring, when the sun’s rays heat the layers of carbon dioxide accumulated during the dark winter months, the frozen CO2 at the bottom of these layers turns into gas. This gas then accumulates and pierces the ice sheets above it, creating geysers of dark dust that spread across the surface and shatter layers of ice up to a meter thick.

Among the most intriguing discoveries is the area nicknamed “Inca City”, or officially Angustus Labyrinthus, first revealed by NASA’s Mariner 9 probe in 1972. This region is distinguished by a network of linear ridges reminiscent of the Inca ruins, hence its evocative name. Scientists speculate on the origin of these formations, suggesting petrified sand dunes or magma flows through cracks in the bedrock.

“Inca City” © ESA

The name “Inca City” is derived from the resemblance of these structures to ancient constructions, and the area is characterized by “walls” which appear to trace part of a large circle, with a diameter of 86 km, suggesting that the city could be located in a large crater formed by the impact of a meteorite.

Mars Express, in orbit for more than two decades, has enriched our understanding of the Red Planet, providing a detailed view of its geological features. The HRSC (High Resolution Stereo Camera) instrument made it possible to map not only these famous spiders and the impacted areas, but also meteorite craters, tectonic faults, ancient waterways and lava basins.

The mission continues to explore Mars’ surface, mapping its minerals, studying the composition and circulation of its atmosphere, probing beneath its crust, and examining the Martian environment as a whole. Each new image and each data collected opens an additional chapter in the still mysterious book of Mars, which promises us new discoveries for years to come.

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