"MORE MYSTERIES OF MARS" > Page 1, 2
While the Opportunity and Spirit rovers are driving around on the Martian surface exploring the details of rock and soil, the Mars Global Surveyor and the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter continue to snap awe-inspiring photos of large geologic features from miles above. Yet they, too, reveal mysterious objects, shapes and elements.
Scientists say it is highly unlikely that there is any freestanding or flowing water on Mars, and almost certainly no life. So we'd like to get a good explanation for this photo taken by the Mars Express orbiter. In stark contrast to the surrounding familiar rust-red rock of the planet is this ribbon of blue-green "something" in a canyon. If we were to see such a feature in an aerial photo of the Earth, we would quickly assume that it is a body of water.
A number of questions arise: Are the colors accurate? The US orbiters have not shown such colors in any of their photos. If the colors are accurate, what accounts for them? Lifeless mineral deposits? Or do they reveal the existence of water... or, more remarkably, a kind of Martian blue-green algae or lichen?
Here is one of the most peculiar craters on Mars. Taken by the Mars Global Surveyor, the photo clearly shows an ordinary-looking crater with something extraordinary-looking inside it. Off-center is a dome-like structure, nearly perfectly spherical, that appears to have a golf ball-like texture... or that of a Buckminster Fuller geodesic construction.
More intriguing, this dome stands very near what looks like a system of tunnels or conduits that run above and below the Martian surface. Small tunnels seem to connect to large tunnels, like some kind of enormous drainage system. (There is a similar crater and dome in this photo.)
Yes, these could all be natural geologic features, and appearances (as we learned with the "Face on Mars") can often be deceiving when it comes to orbital photos of insufficient resolution.
There is no denying, however, that Mars is a place of endless mystery. In this very exciting time when we are just beginning to explore this other world in detail, it is obvious that we are in for a lot of thrilling discoveries and, perhaps, some remarkable surprises.
Is there life on Mars? We'll see!
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