Last Wednesday, NASA released truly confounding images from Mars. The photographs, taken by HiRISE (one of NASA’s instruments involved in the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter program) appears to show a perfectly circular landform which some have claimed looks a lot like the cross section of a brain (or a waffle). The image has baffled spectators and scientists alike.
The 1.2 mile wide mound was found in the area known as the Athabasca region. The photograph appears to show several interesting looking protrusions and patterns, as well as a near perfect circular structure. Though the area is known for its volcanic activity, scientists have been at a loss to explain the curious images. But they definitely have opinions over the origins of the unusual site…
According to the folks over at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, the solution might be simpler than we think. “It is highly possible that volcanism played a role in creating this feature,” NASA wrote in a statement. “Perhaps lava has intruded underneath this mound and pushed it up from beneath. It looks as if material is missing from the mound, so it is also possible that there was a significant amount of ice in the mound that was driven out by the heat of the lava. There are an array of features like this in the region that continue to puzzle scientists.”
Launched in 2005, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is tasked with studying the planet and assisting with other general calculations. The dramatic photographs are but one part of the HiRISE’s functions, which seek to determine the viability and likelihood of a human voyage to Mars.
Recent developments within NASA (including a successful test-launch on Friday) prove that getting to the Red Planet is a top priority. It’s also an idea which has re-ignited the US public’s interest in space exploration, which has been severely cut back in recent years. Here’s hoping these fascinating photos will inspire a whole new generation to explore the wonder of the cosmos.
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