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NASA Discovers Unusual 'Spider' Shapes in Martian Crater: A Connection to Bowie's Legacy

By: April Carson

The universe is full of mysteries, and Mars, our neighboring planet, never ceases to amaze us with its enigmatic landscapes. In a recent discovery, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has provided us with a captivating glimpse into the Martian terrain, revealing intriguing formations known as "spiders." While these arachnid-inspired shapes may not be crawling with life, they are a testament to the mesmerizing beauty of our cosmic neighbor.

In this blog post, we will explore the eerie 'spider' shapes captured by the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera aboard MRO. These spider-like formations, officially known as araneiform terrain, have drawn comparisons to David Bowie's legendary "Spiders from Mars." We'll delve into the details of this discovery, showcasing images and insights from the HiRISE team at the University of Arizona, who have brought this otherworldly phenomenon to our screens.

Unveiling the Martian Spiders:

Our journey into the Martian spider realm begins with the HiRISE camera, a cutting-edge piece of technology operated by a dedicated team at the University of Arizona. HiRISE's mission is to capture high-resolution images of Mars' surface, uncovering its secrets one snapshot at a time. One of their standout features is the "Picture of the Day" (HiPOD), where they showcase the most intriguing images from their extensive archives.

The captivating image in question offers a glimpse into a Martian crater, and it reveals two striking features. The first, as the name suggests, is the araneiform terrain – spider-like formations that stretch across the landscape, evoking a sense of eerie wonder. The second feature, equally fascinating, consists of geometric polygon shapes that bear a striking resemblance to dried mud cracks.

Araneiform Terrain: The Martian Spiders:

Araneiform, derived from the Latin word "araneus," meaning spider, is a fitting term for these captivating Martian features. The HiRISE image shows a cluster of these spider-like formations, sprawled across the crater's floor. They are dark, sinuous, and intricate, mimicking the appearance of arachnids crawling over the Martian terrain.

While the term "spider" might invoke a sense of trepidation, these features are not alive nor are they indicative of life on Mars. Instead, they are the result of a fascinating geological process. According to the HiRISE team, these spider-like shapes form when carbon dioxide ice trapped beneath the surface of the planet sublimates (transforms directly from solid to gas). This sublimation process creates channels in the surface, which resemble the delicate legs of spiders when viewed from above. The dark coloration is likely caused by dust and sand that has accumulated over time.

Geometric Polygons: A Puzzle in the Martian Mud:

Equally perplexing in the HiRISE image are the geometric polygon shapes that appear scattered across the Martian crater. These patterns, resembling dried mud cracks or polygonal fractals, offer another layer of intrigue to the Martian landscape. While their formation is still being studied, it is believed that they may result from the contraction and expansion of surface materials due to temperature variations, a process similar to what we observe on Earth.

David Bowie's 'Spiders from Mars': A Cosmic Connection?

The mention of spiders on Mars cannot help but draw parallels to David Bowie's iconic concept album, "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars." Bowie's fascination with space and extraterrestrial themes in his music has always intrigued fans. While the Martian spiders discovered by NASA are not the same as Bowie's mythical Spiders from Mars, the connection between science and art is undeniable.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, equipped with the powerful HiRISE camera, continues to unveil the mysteries of the Red Planet. The recent discovery of araneiform terrain – spider-like formations – and geometric polygons adds to the tapestry of Martian wonders.

While the spiders on Mars may not be of the creepy-crawly variety, they certainly provide a captivating glimpse into the geological marvels of our cosmic neighbor. And who knows, perhaps David Bowie was onto something when he sang about the Spiders from Mars – the cosmic connection between art and science continues to inspire our exploration of the universe.

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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav


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