A strange mark spotted on the surface of Mars has reignited the decades-old rivalry between Star Wars and Star Trek fans.
'Star Trek' Vs. 'Star Wars'
This week, the University of Arizona published a new photo captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showing chevron shapes in the southeast hellas Planitia. The marks look suspiciously like the symbol of Star Trek's Starfleet.
Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, used the opportunity to throw shade at Star Wars and ignited a Twitter war.
We're 'far far away' from that tiny red planet. pic.twitter.com/pdZlJehflS — Star Wars (@starwars) June 13, 2019
Meanwhile, Mark Hamill, who stars as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, does not think that the pattern looks anything special.
Looks like a boomerang to me. #Meh https://t.co/mpYAbBrDgw — Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) June 15, 2019
Starfleet On Mars?
Unfortunately, the chevron shapes captured by the MRO are not proof that Jean-Luc Picard or Spock has landed on the Red Planet. Scientists explained that the feature was created by chance by natural processes that take place.
According to a statement, a long time ago, the area had large crescent-shaped sand dunes. Then, an eruption occurred: lava flowed around the dunes, but not enough to cover them. When the lava cooled and solidified, the dunes pointed up like islands.
"Eventually, the sand piles that were the dunes migrated away, leaving these 'footprints' in the lava plain," the statement reads. "These are also called 'dune casts' and record the presence of dunes that were surrounded by lava."
The MRO, which has been observing Mars for more than a decade now, has photographed several other chevron shapes on the surface of the Red Planet. More than producing shapes that resemble pop culture symbols, some scientists proposed that these dune casts might have preserved clues about the ancient environment, including past life, in the now-barren world.
The MRO serves as an important link between the rovers that now reside on Mars and ground control at NASA. Another explorer, the Mars 2020 rover, is set to launch next year, to search for signs of past habitable conditions and investigate whether microbial life existed on the Red Planet.