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“Traces of spiders on Mars”

“Traces of spiders on Mars”

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The Mars Express spacecraft captured images of spider prints on the surface of Mars. The truth behind these formations may be surprising.

FRANKFURT – The question of whether there is life on Mars is a central topic in research on the red planet. For example, NASA's Perseverance rover is exploring Mars for evidence of past life. The European Space Agency (ESA) has now taken up this discussion again. With a certain smile The Authority announces on its website: “Signs of spiders on Mars.”

The European Space Agency says on its website that its Mars Express spacecraft has captured images of “spiders’ trails” spread across Mars’ south polar region. The probe recently sent back unique images of the Red Planet. But the space agency quickly clarified: “These small, dark structures are not true spiders, but rather arise when spring sun falls on layers of carbon dioxide deposited in the dark winter months.”

“Traces of spiders” are something completely different

Sunlight causes the carbon dioxide ice at the bottom of the layer to turn into gas. This gas rises and penetrates the layers of ice above. “In a Martian spring, gas flows outward, tearing dark material to the surface and breaking up layers of ice up to a meter thick,” Esa says.

The dark dust-laden gas shoots through ice cracks in the form of tall fountains or geysers before retreating and settling on the surface. This leads to the formation of dark spots ranging from 45 meters to 1 kilometer in diameter. This is also how “spider-shaped” patterns are created. From the perspective of the ESA image, it becomes clear that the supposedly spider-like objects are actually much larger.

June 2, 2003
December 2003
In process
Atmosphere, surface and subsurface of Mars; Mars' moons Phobos and Deimos

“Spiders” on Mars are found near the “Inca City”

The “spiders” captured by the Mars Express camera are located right on the edge of a part of Mars that researchers call the “Inca City” — a near-geometric linear network of mountain ridges said to resemble Inca ruins. The Inca city, known as the Angustus Labyrinth, was discovered in 1972 by NASA's Mariner 9 probe.

Traces of spiders on Mars.
The Mars Express spacecraft captured images of “clear spider trails,” according to the European Space Agency. © European Space Agency

“We still don't know exactly how the Inca city came into being,” Isa explains. It is possible that the sand dunes turned to stone over time. “It is possible that materials such as magma or sand seeped through the fractured layers of Martian rock.” However, they can also be called “eskers”, which are sinuous structures connected to glaciers. (pk/tab)

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