WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- An image of a dune on the surface of Mars looks suspiciously like Star Trek’s well-known Starfleet logo.
- The V-shaped symbol was actually a dune transformed by the planet’s lava and wind, but the coincidence was a delight for fans of the beloved sci-fi show.
- NASA has previously been linked to Star Trek, with the space agency crediting the show for inspiring people with the idea of space travel.
A NASA spacecraft has captured an image of a dune on the surface of Mars — and it looks suspiciously like the well-known Starfleet logo from Star Trek.
The image was taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on the Red Planet’s southeast Hellas Planitia.
It turns out that the V-shaped symbol is a dune transformed by the planet’s lava and wind.
The MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, based at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, explained that these were “dune casts,” which “record the presence of dunes that were surrounded by lava.”
Crescent-shaped dunes, called “barchan,” move across the planet’s surface. An eruption would cause lava to flow around the dunes, leaving island-like landmarks.
The HiRISE website explained that these sand piles eventually “migrated away, leaving these ‘footprints’ in the lava plain.”
The symbol found on Mars serves as a fun, coincidental reference, especially for fans of the beloved sci-fi show Star Trek.
In the show, the famous Captain Kirk and Spock are members of the Starfleet organization, which is responsible for deep space explorations, research, diplomacy, peacekeeping, and defense.
NASA has actually been linked to the show since its 1966 premiere.
According to NASA’s website, “When the [original] show ended after three seasons, NASA was still six weeks from landing astronauts on the moon, but Star Trek had firmly implanted the idea of travel to the stars in the collective imagination.”
In the 1970s, Star Trek actress Nichelle Nicholls helped NASA recruit African-American astronauts. Destiny in Space, which showed footage of astronauts repairing the Hubble Space Telescope, was narrated by Spock actor Leonard Nimoy.
Even Dr. Edward Weiler, the former Chief Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope, shared how Star Trek inspired him to join the scientific field.
The space agency has posthumously awarded the show’s founding producer, Gene Roddenberry, with the Distinguished Public Service Medal for the “way Star Trek inspired people around the globe.”