It looks like one of the NASA’s Mars rovers may have boldly gone where someone has gone before. A photo captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has made the rounds online, which showcases a bizarrely-shaped footprint of sorts that was found on a sand dune on the surface of the planet Mars. As some have been quick to point out, the shape found on Mars bears a pretty strong resemblance to the Starfleet symbol from the Star Trek franchise.
A photo captured by NASA bears resemblance to the Starfleet logo from Star Trek
NASA’s HiRISE account, which had initially shared the photo on Twitter, even poked fun at the connection, joking that “Enterprising viewers will make the discovery” that the shape is awfully similar.
Twitter post by official HiRISE website
According to the HiRISE website, this Starfleet- symbol shaped dune on mars came about through a very particular blend of science.
Caption Spotlight (12 Jun 2019): Dune Footprints in Hellas
Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo.
— HiRISE: Beautiful Mars (NASA) (@HiRISE) June 12, 2019
“Long ago, there were large crescent-shaped (barchan) dunes that moved across this area, and at some point, there was an eruption.” the website reads in part. “The lava flowed out over the plain and around the dunes, but not over them. The lava solidified, but these dunes still stuck up like islands. However, they were still just dunes, and the wind continued to blow. Eventually, the sand piles that were the dunes migrated away, leaving these “footprints” in the lava plain. These are also called “dune casts” and record the presence of dunes that were surrounded by lava.”
While the symbol’s resemblance to Starfleet is largely a pretty awesome coincidence, it does unintentionally showcase the impact that the Trek franchise has as of now.
“Star Trek is science-fiction, and science-fiction, to a large group of people, is part of the awe and wonder of the universe,” William Shatner, who starred in the original series as James T. Kirk, said in an interview last year. “We speculate about what’s out there, and since we have no way of knowing, anyone’s speculation is as valid as anybody else’s. But it is of interest to people who look at the stars at night and wonder what’s out there and whether little green men are flying this way. Could we possibly see life? That brings up the question of death and all the stuff that we have no answers for. Science-fiction speculates an answer, and that, I think, is the fascination.”