Saturday, 24 August, 2019

Nasa orbiter captures Star Trek Starfleet logo on Mars

William Shatner as Capt. Kirk in ‘Star Trek,’ sporting the Starfleet insignia in 1966 William Shatner as Capt. Kirk in ‘Star Trek,’ sporting the Starfleet insignia in 1966
Sandra Phillips | 14 June, 2019, 23:16

The likeness did not go unnoticed by one of Star Trek's biggest stars, William Shatner, who couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a friendly jab at the Star Wars franchise.

According to NASA's website, the space agency awarded its Distinguished Public Service Medal posthumously to the show's founding producer, Gene Roddenberry, to recognize the "way Star Trek inspired people around the globe".

A NASA spacecraft captured a photo of a dune on the surface of Mars that looks suspiciously like the famous Starfleet logo from Star Trek. "You'd be right, but it's only a coincidence".

As you can see in the original image, there are actually several such fossilized dunes left in the area, all of them holding roughly the same pointy shape.

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The dune resembling the logo was spotted in Hellas Planitia, which is a massive plain in the Hellas impact basin, located towards the southern end of Mars. An eruption sent lava spilling out, moving around the dunes but not covering them. The story starts with crescent-shaped sand dunes where wind and surface interacted. This particularly pop-culture-friendly dune is actually nearly entirely gone, having been blown away by winds long ago, but its outline remains thanks to some kind of ancient eruption that caused lava to flow across it.

"However, they were still just dunes, and the wind continued to blow", the statement continued. In the image, the long-still remains of an ancient dune catch the eye immediately, and for good reason: it's in the shape of the Star Trek logo. It serves as a vital communications relay for NASA's Curiosity rover and InSight lander and is expected to support the Mars 2020 rover mission when that craft lands on the Red Planet. By the time it eventually cooled, the pattern was already there, with the sand dunes remaining "stuck up like islands", the statement said.

The orbiter has been sending back high-resolution imagery for 13 years, well past its design lifetime.

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