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David Bowie sang about his sci-fi persona Ziggy Stardust performing with the Spiders from Mars, and now it turns out there's a "spider" on Mars after all.
An image captured by a European Space Agency (ESA) orbiter recently showed what appears to be a very hairy, blue spider extending its "legs" across the Martian landscape.
Reality - Spider - Pattern - Ridge - Frenzy
But in reality, the so-called spider is a sprawling pattern left behind on a ridge by a frenzy of dust devils, when hundreds or even thousands of whirling tornadoes formed in the area, ESA representatives said yesterday (March 14) in a statement.
The ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter captured the image on Feb. 8 in Mars' Terra Sabaea region, using the spacecraft's Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS). Blue tracks represent parts of the ridge that were scraped and scoured by the tornadoes' winds. Though the actual color of the material exposed by the tornadoes is dark red, it shows up as blue in the color-composite image; this technique enhances the contrast of surface features, according to the statement.
Orbiter - Glimpse - NASA - InSight - Lander
The orbiter captured a glimpse of NASA's InSight lander, as a "mole" probe hammered itself into the Martian surface.
It is unknown why so many dust devils (or dust tornadoes) converged along the ridge, though the region's mountains...
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