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Strange Mars Photo Includes Tantalizing 'Tree' Illusion

From Mercury to Pluto and beyond. . .

Postby blackvault » Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:11 pm

Image

By Ker Than

Naturally erupting dust clouds on Mars are creating structures that look surprisingly like trees near the planet's north pole. But don't be fooled – it's just an optical illusion, NASA scientists say.

The Martian "trees" are actually dark basaltic sand pushed to the surface of sand dunes by sun-heated solid carbon dioxide ice, or dry ice, sublimating directly into vapor, explained Candy Hansen, a member of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) team at the University of Arizona.

The sand dunes form a nearly complete ring around Mars' north pole and are covered by a thin layer of reddish Martian dust and patches of dry ice. To date, there is no firm evidence of any type of Martian biology, past or present, plant or otherwise.

In the Martian spring, the sun warms the ice, causing it to sublimate directly into vapor, and the resulting gas dislodges surrounding dust and sand particles.

"What we think is happening is that the dark sand is sliding down the bright frosted portion of the dune," Hansen told SPACE.com.

The image, taken by MRO's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, is part of a series of Martian images appearing in a special issue of the journal Icarus this month.

The Martian illusion is not the first to capture the imaginations of people on Earth.

In 1976, a photograph of a rock formation on Mars beamed to Earth by NASA's Viking 1 orbiter looked to many like a face carved in the Martian surface. The Face on Mars photo's legacy has survived to this day, even after additional observations by more advanced spacecraft have revealed it to be a trick of light and shadows.

Since then, other Martian illusions have popped up in images from orbiters and rovers, including an object that resembled a small bunny and a rock that looked like a female figure to some and Bigfoot to others.

The streaks look as if they are rising up from the sand dunes, but that's an illusion, Hansen said. "You're looking at the slip face of the dune, and where the sand comes to a stop, it forms a sort of scallop-shaped edge at the bottom."

Each dark sand streak can measure up to 164 feet (50 meters) in length.

HiRISE actually caught one of the dust eruptions as they happened.

"If you look closely, you can see this little dust cloud casting a tiny shadow," Hansen said.

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/m ... 00113.html
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Postby vulcan6gun » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:22 am

Cool catch, John. Here's another one for you:

Image

They say, "It's just a rock..." :shock:




...which it is. Without anything for scale, the closeup makes it look like a female figure sitting in a desert. The photo was taken by MER Spirit. 8-)
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Postby sandra » Sat Feb 27, 2010 9:35 am

Those pictures are awesome maaaaan :geek:
Vulcan that really does look like a woman figure sitting there, wish there was a better zoom of the picture, or from another angle if it would appear still like a woman.
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Postby BloodStone » Sat Feb 27, 2010 9:50 am

There seems to be a lot of interesting pics from Mars.

The problem is they either get laughed down, or they say it's an optical illusion. I can't find it now, but they had a site with all the odd pictures from Mars. They had a few pics that looked like skulls on the ground, mechanical parts. all kinds of stuff you wouldn't expect to find there.

I'll keep looking to see if I can find the link.

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Postby sandra » Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:21 am

If you find the link ya better share it. ;)
I want to see more pictures ... I haven't seen alot of pictures of mars, not even the ones that are claimed to be optical illusionary looking... :lol:
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Postby BloodStone » Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:06 pm

I think if you google MarsAnomoly.com you'll get a bunch of links.



some interesting stuff in there.

My favorite is the humanoid skull, It's pretty damn close to a human skull, I have a hard time believing it is a rockk.


But they blur the photos so much it's hard to tell what it really is at times.


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