The Curiosity Mars Rover from NASA has found strange rock formations on Mars that look like small, twisted towers. The SETI Institute, a group that looks for signs of alien intelligence, posted a picture of the rock formations on Twitter last month. The picture was taken by one of the rover’s cameras on May 15 and sent back to Earth.
At first glance, the strange vertical formations look like they might be made of wood because they look like they are almost living things. Some people may have also been interested in the fact that the photo was shared by the SETI Institute. But the tweet from the SETI Institute quickly ruled out any organic or alien origins.
#PPOD: Here is another cool rock at Gale crater on Mars! The spikes are most likely the cemented fillings of ancient fractures in a sedimentary rock. The rest of the rock was made of softer material and was eroded away. 📷: @NASA @NASAJPL @Caltech #MSSS fredk, acquired on May 17. pic.twitter.com/RGfjmRBfI7
— The SETI Institute (@SETIInstitute) May 26, 2022
“Here is another cool rock at Gale crater on Mars,” the organization said. “The spikes are most likely the cemented fillings of ancient fractures in sedimentary rock. The rest of the rock was made of softer material and was eroded away.”
On NASA’s website, you can see a raw black-and-white picture.
Erosion is a well-known natural process in which solid surfaces break down over time. Erosion can happen here on Earth because of things like rain, running water, ice, and wind. Mars doesn’t have running water, but there is a lot of wind.
Scientists have already written about how the winds on Mars have created valley systems and other natural features by blowing away surface material that isn’t very well stuck together.
Erosion can also make structures that are smaller and more complicated. NASA shared a picture of a strange rock formation that looked like a flower earlier this year.
The rock formation, which Curiosity also took a picture of and posted on March 9, is smaller than a penny and has several protruding parts.
“It would be a big fine if the rock really was a fossilized flower from ancient Mars, but there are other, less exciting, and more likely explanations for its strange shape,” the space agency said in an online post.
People think that water seeping through cracks in the rock deposited minerals in the shape of a flower at some point in the past. This made a hard structure that will stay even if the rock on the outside wears away.
People tend to be interested in photos taken by robotic rovers on the surface of Mars, especially when they show cool rock formations. This year, a rocky “doorway” on the surface of Mars made headlines, and other stories focused on what was thought to be a “alien figure” lying down on a rock in the background of a Perseverance photo.