- NASA photographed ‘spiders’ on Mars.
- Scientists have found how these were formed.
Over the past years, scientists at NASA were baffled by a spider-like feature on Mars’ surface, coining the term ‘spiders’ to describe this mysterious formation.
But years after a thorough investigation and careful assessment of satellite images, scientists have claimed they may have found an explanation. Some NASA scientists believe that the Martian spiders are still growing.
What NASA Scientists Say
In a statement, NASA researchers concluded that erosion and the melting of ice caps on Mars’ south pole are among the factors that form the spiders. The team of researchers used NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to monitor the growth of the troughs’ growth over the time.
Ganna Portyankina of the University of Colorado, Boulder who co-authored the study, said the reach of the spiders have grown enormously. They believe that it took thousands of Martian years before a baby spider becomes a full-blown spider. A Martian year is equivalent to 1.9 years on Earth.
“We have seen for the first time these smaller features that survive and extend from year to year, and this is how the larger spiders get started. These are in sand-dune areas, so we don’t know whether they will keep getting bigger or will disappear under moving sand,” Portyankina said in a statement.
What Causes ‘Spiders’
The research team noted that the size and the detail of the spider-like troughs vary. There were spiders that span for up to tens of hundreds of meters. Its branching tributaries resemble to that of a spider’s legs.
It was found that dry ice that cover the south pole of Mars during winter and the warming effect during spring creates a reaction leading to the formation of the spiders.
As the sun warms the ice sheet, it causes the carbon dioxide to rise from the surface. The pressure it creates then pushes the upward creating patches and breaks on the ground.