Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, once wrote a letter to Corey S. Powell, editor-at-large of Discover magazine, requesting an investigation into the forests on Mars spotted by NASA’s orbiter, Surveyor.
Forests on Mars would certainly be a mind blowing discovery for a legendary science fiction writer such as Clarke, well, for any science fiction writer. It could mean all kinds of things like life on Mars. Like maybe Martians do exist. Like maybe little green men from outer space have visited Earth, abducted some of us, studied us, and drew crop circles—stuff X-Files believers have been saying for decades.
All Kinds of Weirdness
While surfing the web at various sites dedicated to alien encounters, I found there is no shortage of freaky fotos from Mars. For those who study these images, numerous strange objects have been noted like rats, rabbits, and lizards.
Mars and alien enthusiasts recently spotted a woman’s image in these rocky photographs.
Though Clark died in 2008, Powell continued to investigate the odd images from Mars, but doesn’t believe scientists are hiding the discovery of life on the planet. (June 2014 issue of Discover.) He indicates that he bases this on a statement made by Jim Bell, a lead researcher running the Curiosity rover’s color camera. “My colleagues and I, we would be at the front of the parade if we discovered a dinosaur bone or a tiny lizard on Mars,” Bell said. “It would be the most spectacular discovery in the history of science. Why the hell would we cover it up?”
(Oh, I don’t know. Maybe, because you were told to.)
The odd visuals are blamed on Mars’ weather: wind, absence of rainfall, and extreme temperatures. “Often the rover driving past is the most interesting thing that’s happened there in the past two billon years,” Bell said.
Fine bits of windblown dust cause the erosion on the Red Planet. “The dust grains are microns in diameter, cigarette-smoke size. Imagine blowing smoke at a rock; nothing is really going to happen. But blow smoke at a rock for a billion years? Dust and sand grains can carve canyons out of mountains,” said Bell.
I explored the images on the NASA website taken of Mars’ surface and there is no end to the weirdness in these photographs.
Let your imagination run wild as we sample a few.
Taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter these dark swirls are made by Martian winds on sand dunes.
(ProbeNote: According to NASA— The HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is the most powerful one of its kind ever sent to another planet. Its high resolution allows us to see Mars like never before, and helps other missions choose a safe spot to land for future exploration.)
NASA says dune fields are affected by sand supply, wind speed, and topography. (Very uniform pattern for something so random as wind speed. Makes one wonder.)
Gases escaping from underground are said to have carved this spider-like imagery. (Or are they actually the front doors to Martian homes?)
The Mars Orbiter Camera on NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft discovered the above crater. Scientists believe the crater appears to have formed on Mars in the past 20 or so Earth years. Scientists have used the crater and several other similar craters to estimate the present cratering rate on Mars.
HiRISE snapped this close-up of the impact crater on March 30, 2015. NASA calls this crater “fresh” in geological terms. It is located in the Sirenum Fossae region of Mars.
HiRise captured the above image of a circular depression on the surface of Mars January 5, 2015.
The Ghost Forests on Mars
The ghost forests of Mars are what Clarke asked Discover magazine to investigate. It really does look like images of forests and is said to be sprouting in a south pole-like region of Mars where temperature fall below -200°F. I found several different explanations as to what these formations actually are.
- Darker, cascading sands create the illusion of trees. (Discover magazine June 2014 issue: “Weirdlands of Mars”)
- Indeed growths, though lifeless ones, much like those mineral spires that sprout around the edges of mineral-rich lakes. On Mars, the growths are probably frozen carbon dioxide. (Science Frontiers)
- A spectrometer on the Global Surveyor indicates the fernlike forms are composed of dry ice. When winter sets in on Mars’ south pole, carbon dioxide, which makes up 95 percent of the atmosphere, freezes onto the surface. “Something causes a small pathway, tortuous or straight, through the ice,” says Hugh Kieffer, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona. He believes tiny grains of dust, heated by the summer Martian sun, vaporize the surrounding ice and slowly burrow their way downward. When the grains reach the soil below, they create vents. “Once you have a hole established from top to bottom, gas can get out,” Kieffer says. Carbon dioxide converging under the ice toward those holes could move fast enough to erode the soil and produce spiderlike channels around the vents, creating the illusion of an alien garden. (Discover November 2001)
(ProbeNote: I find it puzzling that Discover magazine gives two different explanations.)
One must admit—especially those of us prone to science fiction explanations—the photos conjure up some fantastical illusions of what could be. I can’t help but visualize giant spider-like creatures emerging from their underground homes on Mars to mount their V shaped sand-crafts and check out the progress of NASA’s rover.
What are your thoughts? Are the explanations for these phenomenal images we are given, real? Is the truth out there and will we be told?
The Probe’s Statement of Purpose
The Probe is a blog devoted to the exploration of the unexplainable, to finding the truth in occurrences that resemble science fiction, and to researching and reporting on topics that could be flung upon the wall of weird. New posts are featured every week.
( Mostly on Mondays, but sometimes I release early, like on Sundays, if I have a writing deadline, or if I’m going camping, or if I have something exciting I just can’t wait to tell you. Sign up to get my new blog posts delivered to your email. No spam. Promise.)
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Rockwell K. says
These landscapes are so eerily beautiful. Wow, aliens or not, we cannot deny the magic of the universe. Thank you for sharing.
I know! Such magic and beauty is hard to grasp or comprehend, perhaps our reason for alien hunting. Someone to thank for all the marvels of the universe.
Thank you, Rockwell, for stopping by and commenting.
Rockwell K. says
I wonder if the aliens look at Earth and marvel at its beauty. Our buildings, our forests and our mountains could equally be foreign and unusual. The sad thing is we often only see the destruction (self-imposed) via pollution etc, but there are still so many marvels to be grateful for.
Then again, maybe we should be thanking the Aliens for the beauty here on earth.
Beautifully said, Rockwell. Earth IS equally as marvelous.
fototaker Tony says
Great analysis and thoughts, and the imagery is fantastic as can be expected. I find the very last image of the “forests” to be equally puzzling and interesting. The surface is seemingly smooth which hints at either constant high winds keeping the surface smooth, or possibly even some type of liquid that flow over the surface to keep it seemingly smooth. The winds could be a real-world probability though. A recent meteor strike!! WoW!!! Thanks for such interesting material always!! HUGs
Hugs to you too, Tony. I hoped you’d see the photos. I really appreciate your visiting and commenting. Many of the images sent back from Mars cause one’s imagination to go into hyper drive and ask: “WTFrack is that?”