What is the Starfleet insignia doing on Mars? That's the question on the minds of millions of Star Trek fans around our big blue marble as they look at recent photos of the red planet. Apparently, according to Tech Times, which first covered the story, the strange formations on Mars are actually sand dunes formed by the very same forces that direct birds on long flights.
"Migratory birds and military aircraft often fly in a V-shaped formation," NASA explained on its website. "The 'V' formation greatly boosts the efficiency and range of flying birds, because all except the first fly in the upward motion of air - called upwash - from the wingtip vortices of the bird ahead. In this image of a dune field on Mars in a large crater near Mawrth Vallis, some of the dunes appear to be in a V-shaped formation. For dune fields, the spacing of individual dunes is a function of sand supply, wind speed, and topography."
Anyway, the startling Starfleet-ish shot was snapped on December 30, 2013, by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is currently in orbit above Mars. It, Tech Times notes, depicts several of these formations/structures across the Martian surface, near Mawrth Vallis, one of the oldest valleys on Mars.
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