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ESA captures mysterious spider shapes on Mars

ESA captures mysterious spider shapes on Mars

The “spiders” form when spring sun falls on layers of carbon dioxide deposited during the dark winter months. Image: European Space Agency

New images taken by two European Space Agency (ESA) probes, Mars Express and Trace Gas Orbiter, show strange formations on Mars in stunning detail.

by: Carpentry

They are arachnid shapes that gather around the planet's south pole, and are known as the “Mars spiders” due to their distinctive spider-like shape.

Their scientific name is “araneiformes”, literally meaning “spider form” in Latin, which form when spring sunlight falls on layers of frozen carbon dioxide (CO2) on the surface of Mars.

Sunlight causes the carbon dioxide ice at the bottom of the solid layer to turn into a gas, which later accumulates and explodes upward through the overlapping ice sheets.

The emerging gas jets, laden with dark dust, break up layers of ice up to 1 meter thick before retreating and settling on the surface, creating the distinctive spider-shaped dark spots between 45 meters and 1 kilometer across that can be seen in images from space probes.

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