- BBC News World
With a striking rectangular shape, and a smooth cut that contrasts with the rough rock around it, a geological formation on Mars has raised questions for several days.
Some have found “door” shape and others have floated theories as to whether an extraterrestrial civilization could create a “passageway” on the neighboring planet.
But what the photo taken by the robot shows curiositywhich has been sending Mars data from the ground since 2012, has a more logical explanation.
According to NASA, it’s all a matter of perspective.
The origin and its explanation
On May 7, the US space agency published one more photograph of the terrain of Mars that the Mast camera of the Curiosity robot took.
NASA identified the image as part of the “Sol 3466” series that was published in multiple frames on the Mars Exploration Program website.
Since the publication, some people on the internet began to theorize about its shape and its “door” or “passageway” appearance.
But that particular image is just one part of a series that, seeing it in its entire composition, changes the perspective of its dimension and shape.
“It’s a take very, very, very enlarged from a small crack on a rock,” NASA explained to BBC Mundo.
In the following image you can see the composition that forms the entire series of images 3466 and how small the fissure is in that rock of the Jezero crater, which the Curiosity robot has explored in recent weeks.
Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have highlighted how small the crack is, about 30cm wide by 45cm long.
“There are linear fractures throughout this outcrop, and this is a place where several linear fractures intersect,” NASA explained.
A “curious” fracture
Several experts have weighed in on this in recent days.
Neil Hodgson, a British geologist who has studied Martian landforms, says that while it’s a “curious image,” it’s not mysterious.
“In short, it seems to me a natural erosion,” he told the specialized site Live Science.
The layers, that is, the rock layers seen in images like this one are beds of silt and sand.
“They were deposited about 4 billion years ago in sedimentary conditions, possibly in a river or on a windblown dune,” Hodgson said.
Ground fractures can form such cracks naturally. In this case, a vertical fracture it intersects with the strata or layers until forming this type of cuts.
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