Mystery over 'giant spiders' seen lurking on surface of MARS finally solved
THE MYSTERY surrounding what looks like giant spiders on the surface of Mars may finally have been solved.
The strange spider-like patterns were spotted on the Red Planet's south pole 20 years ago and have caused lots of debate since.
Scientists have been left baffled because the 'Mars spiders' don't look like any other formation on Earth.
A team of researchers has recently tried to solve the conundrum by recreating a smaller version of the 'spiders' in their lab.
Their study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.
It explains how they think the 'Mars spiders' are definitely created when ice touches the warmer surface of Mars and transforms from a solid to a gas instantly.
This process, called sublimation, may create the spidery cracks on the surface.
The scientists created Mars atmosphere-like conditions in a lab and tested dropping dry ice onto a Mars-like surface.
They found they could form similar spidery patterns.
Other scientists have proposed a gas theory for the spider patterns before but the recent research claims it has "the first set of empirical evidence".
Lead study author Lauren McKeown said: "This research presents the first set of empirical evidence for a surface process that is thought to modify the polar landscape on Mars.
"The experiments show directly that the spider patterns we observe on Mars from orbit can be carved by the direct conversion of dry ice from solid to gas."
About 95% of Mars's atmosphere is made of carbon dioxide so the ice that forms there is also made of the gas.
Heating this Mars ice is said to cause pressure to build and that's why cracks form on the Martian surface.
The gas then escapes through the cracks and leaves behind the creepy spider-like mounds.
Researchers will need to study the actual Mars spiders up close to confirm whether this theory is 100% correct but it's the strongest evidence we have so far that the patterns are related to a gas process.
Here’s what you need to know about the Red Planet…
- Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun
- It is named after the Roman god of war
- The landmass of Mars is very similar to Earth but due to the difference in gravity you could jump three times higher there than you can here
- Mars is mountainous and hosts the tallest mountain known in the Solar System called Olympus Mons, which is three times higher than Everest
- Mars is considered to be the second most habitable planet after Earth
- It takes the planet 687 Earth days to orbit the Sun
- So far, there has been 39 missions to Mars but only 16 of these have been successful
In other space news, mysterious rumblings from deep beneath the surface of Mars have been detected by a Nasa probe on the Red Planet.
China's Martian probe has sent back eerie images of the Red Planet looming large.
And, Elon Musk has warned that humanity may "self-extinguish" before we can colonise Mars.
What do you think of the 'Mars spiders'? Let us know in the comments…
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