NASA Orbiter Finds Star Trek Logo Shaped Dune On Mars Surface

Has Starfleet boldly gone where no man has gone before? A dune that is shaped like the Star Trek logo has appeared on the surface of Mars. A picture of the dune was captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

The image was taken by the MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. The HiRISE is the largest reflecting telescope that has ever been carried into deep space. According to NASA, it “makes observations at near-infrared wavelengths to obtain information on the mineral groups present.” Scientists are then able to accurately calculate the topography of Mars. The HiRISE has photographed hundreds of swaths and provides scientists with valuable information about channels, gulfs, and other geographic features.

The dune that resembles Starfleet’s logo was found in Hellas Planitia, a plain that is located within the impact basin Hellas. Hellas Planitia is already rather unique due to its large size and because the region is lighter in coloring than the rest of the planet. It was believed to have been formed 4.1 to 3.8 billion years ago.

nasa star trek mars sand dune
Image from NASA

The Starfleet dune is younger than Hellas Planitia. The Starfleet logo likely started out as a crescent-shaped sand dune. Volcanic eruptions flooded the area with lava, but the lava was not quite thick enough to entirely cover the dune. The tips of the original sand dune remained once the lava cooled. The sand dune was eventually blown away and left behind a “dune cast”. The Starfleet logo is therefore a dune cast and teaches us about the volcanic history of Mars. 

The Starfleet dune cast has caught many people’s attention. William Shatner, the actor behind Captain Kirk, joked that the team behind Star Trek had beat Star Wars to Mars. The dune cast's popularity has even caused the leading scientists that manage HiRISE to speak out. Scientists from the University of Arizona remarked, “Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo.You'd be right, but it's only a coincidence."
There may be human beings on the planet Mars soon enough. Elon Musk hopes to begin colonizing Mars in 2024. Both government and private enterprises are sure to follow suit.
Tags:  space, Star Trek, NASA, mars