Scientists finally explain the mysterious “spiders” found on Mars

We regret to inform you that giant spiders do not actually live on Mars.

Creepy bugs

For decades, scientists have been puzzled by the strange formations at the south pole of Mars that look like giant spiders.

That’s not to say astronomers were concerned that future Martian outposts would be attacked by giant alien arthropods, but the unusual geological formations still eluded explanation for years. Living science reports. Now a team of scientists from the UK appears to have discovered it thanks to a chunk of dry ice, a pile of dirt, and a machine that can recreate the Martian atmosphere here on Earth.

Sublime experimentation

Researchers have hypothesized as early as 2003 that the 3,300-foot “spiders” had something to do with sublimating carbon-rich ice on Mars, or turning directly from a solid into a gas, but they had no way to prove it. . Living science reports.

But now, UK researchers have been able to create smaller versions of the formations in a laboratory by pressing dry ice against warmer sediments, according to research published last month in the journal. Scientific reports. When they did so in an artificial atmosphere similar to that of Mars, the ice sublimated and rushed outward, carving leg-shaped trenches in the ground.

Testing ground

Mystery solved! In addition to confirming what it did to the spiders on Mars, the fact that experimental conditions similar to those on Mars created the same formations as on real Mars suggests that scientists now have a powerful tool to study Martian phenomena without the need to travel. there.

“This research presents the first set of empirical evidence for a surface process believed to modify the polar landscape on Mars,” said Open University planetary scientist and lead author of the study, Lauren McKeown, in a news release. “The experiments directly show that the spider patterns we observe on Mars from orbit can be carved out by the direct conversion of dry ice from a solid to a gas.”

READ MORE: The creepy ‘spiders on Mars’ finally explained after two decades [Live Science]

More about Mars: Study: ancient Mars was covered in ice sheets, not rivers

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